Of the many things that horrify and appall us about terrorism and ISIS in particular, the involvement of women in the carnage is one of the most evocative. When women are found to be complicit in acts of terror, torture, and even rape, society asks, “how could this happen? How could women do something like this?"
In recent years, the foremost examples of female violence have come from women involved in Islamic terrorist organizations. Dr. Katherine Brown, a lecturer in the department of Religion and Theology at the University of Birmingham, specializing in gender, jihad, and counter-terrorism, and an expert witness to the UK High Courts, told The Daily Beast that “women join radical Islamist groups that promote violence for a combination of personal and political reasons.” Both men and women are motivated by emotional appeals, but “for men it’s an opportunity to display their prowess, to defend their women, and to have a life that’s more fun than the Call of Duty computer game. For women the journey is presented as cleansing and exciting, an opportunity to help those suffering, and a chance to have a shape history.”
Initially, at least, women are attracted to radical Islam for somewhat idealistic and altruistic reasons. What’s strange, however, is the rise in female suicide bombers. In 2002, after Palestinian Wafa Idris blew herself up, a number of Islamic groups denounced the use of women in jihad. Their rationale was that jihad violates a woman’s modesty if she travels alone and her body is displayed after death. But data compiled by the FDD’s Long War Journal reveals that in 2016 at least 29 women detonated suicide bombs.
By comparison, in the first three months of 2017, Brown explained, at least 27 women have been used as suicide bombers in Nigeria and Cameroon alone: “This is a relatively new trend; while women have long participated in extremist violent groups, they have been less involved in suicide bombing and direct violence.”
Read more at The Daily Beast