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Need to Know: Women as Bombs

A recent surge in suicide bombings carried out by women, may indicate that desperate Iraqi insurgents will increasingly employ women for suicide attacks.


Using women as human bombs gives the insurgents a tactical advantage. Many conservative Muslims believe physical contact is forbidden between unrelated women and men. Women, already less suspicious, are therefore allowed to pass through male-guarded checkpoints. Images of women suicide bombers can also be used to recruit men by claiming that wives and mothers must be sacrificed because there aren't enough brave men.

According to a recent AP article, some women are motivated by revenge—perhaps their sons were killed in the war. Others may do it for ideological reasons, just like the men.

Perhaps the rise in female bombers reflects a changing role for women in the Middle East. Are women rising in status, as suicide bombers are often hailed as heroes? Or, are they merely pawns used by desperate insurgents trying to gain strategic advantage?

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minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
Actually lizadilly, go back about 400 years to what is now Irish land - a good book that briefly highlights this history is, The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British, by Tony Geraghty.
lizadilly lizadilly 8 years
@minaminamina: just curious, where are you getting that the IRISH invented suicide bombing? Suicide attacks have gone on since and likely before the destruction of the Philistine temple. The assassination of Czar Alexander II of Russia in 1881 is commonly cited as the first modern suicide bombing for political purposes. This certainly precedes aggressive measures taken by Sinn Fein, if that's what you're referring to.Sorry for the double-post!
lizadilly lizadilly 8 years
@minaminamina: just curious, where are you getting that the IRISH invented suicide bombing? Suicide attacks have gone on since and likely before the destruction of the Philistine temple. The assassination of Czar Alexander II of Russia in 1881 is commonly cited as the first modern suicide bombing for political purposes. This certainly precedes aggressive measures taken by Sinn Fein, if that's what you're referring to. Sorry for the double-post!
lizadilly lizadilly 8 years
I don't think there's much distinction between "pawns" and "heroes," unfortunately. The middle east is rich in rare resources and because of this has been tangled in occupation and territorial disputes for generations. Death is so ubiquitous, that I think dying for the cause has been made heroic as a coping mechanism as well as a war strategy. A really good movie to see to get the idea of this is "Death in Gaza."I would also say that there is a lot of overlap between "revenge" and "ideological reasons." Don't you think the men's convictions are reinforced by their grief for lost sons and fathers also?
lizadilly lizadilly 8 years
I don't think there's much distinction between "pawns" and "heroes," unfortunately. The middle east is rich in rare resources and because of this has been tangled in occupation and territorial disputes for generations. Death is so ubiquitous, that I think dying for the cause has been made heroic as a coping mechanism as well as a war strategy. A really good movie to see to get the idea of this is "Death in Gaza." I would also say that there is a lot of overlap between "revenge" and "ideological reasons." Don't you think the men's convictions are reinforced by their grief for lost sons and fathers also?
Adrianne Adrianne 8 years
This really doesn't help the cause of women in the world.
desertbanshee desertbanshee 8 years
It's unfortunate that these women feel they have no other options.
annebreal annebreal 8 years
I don't know as much as I should about suicide bombings, because they're so depressing, and all the comments here are really interesting. To the original post itself, I saw such a parallel to female gang members in the US, especially in the 80s and 90s. They were useful because of the same reasons, less suspicious and more likely not to be searched, and also likely to be used as pawns and not considered "real" gang members.
minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
Iraq has been, historically, one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the Middle East - now, obviously people like Saddam Hussein did not embody that, nor do terrorist groups that pretend to be Muslim (note: anyone who kills another human being is not a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Jew, etc...). Now in the case of war and religious fundamentalism Iraqi women have enjoyed more freedom than a woman living in France would in regard to her rights, taxes, ownership, marriages, etc. I understand what you mean, luvpizaman, and this may be true for SOME women - but as a whole, Iraqi women enjoy a freedom that is just short of the American standard.In individual situations, however, I cannot claim this is true - just like with any other situation to be discussed. But, that aside, it's unlikely most Iraqi women are seeking "equality" - what is likely, however, is that they are not in their correct mental faculties for whatever reason.
minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
Iraq has been, historically, one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the Middle East - now, obviously people like Saddam Hussein did not embody that, nor do terrorist groups that pretend to be Muslim (note: anyone who kills another human being is not a Muslim, or a Christian, or a Jew, etc...). Now in the case of war and religious fundamentalism Iraqi women have enjoyed more freedom than a woman living in France would in regard to her rights, taxes, ownership, marriages, etc. I understand what you mean, luvpizaman, and this may be true for SOME women - but as a whole, Iraqi women enjoy a freedom that is just short of the American standard. In individual situations, however, I cannot claim this is true - just like with any other situation to be discussed. But, that aside, it's unlikely most Iraqi women are seeking "equality" - what is likely, however, is that they are not in their correct mental faculties for whatever reason.
foxie foxie 8 years
Anybody read "The Attack"? It's a really interesting fiction book about a female suicide bomber... well, more about her aftermath. I highly recommend it.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 8 years
the best articles I read were on a sri lankan would be bomber, a chechen suicide bomber. Their stories put everyting into pespective and i agree with mina, violence begets violence. You lose your chid, home, your family, the man you love and all you wnat is revenge it's very easy to be put on a course you hadn't planned for in tis mental state.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I was reading an article about Palestinian female suicide bombers in Time magazine ("Moms and Martyrs" May 14, 2007 issue), and the sad thing is that one of the case studies they used claimed that the woman who blew herself up was caught having an affair with a senior Hamas commander and was to be sentenced to death but instead was "given a second chance" to become a martyr instead.
ms_mags ms_mags 8 years
I try to put it into the context of how things are for them religiously and culturely, but it just really angers me to see that women have no value unless they can take out as many or more soldiers than their male counterparts.
KimmieChronicles KimmieChronicles 8 years
I think that female suicide bombers are being coerced into taking their lives under the false pretence that they're gaining ground on being viewed as equal to men. It's unfortunate that the insurgents will use the equality goals of women for recruitment purposes.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 8 years
I agree with Mina, absolutely. It's not something to condone or support, but you have to understand that after a lifetime of living in squalid repression... you're willing to believe anything and DO anything to improve the situation for yourself, even if it means ending your own life. They're desperate, and that's the problem.
minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
I'm not defending suicide bombings, but a speaker on Palestine put it in perspective for me once, long ago:Options for Palestinian/Iraqi/(insert occupied and oppressed people here):1. Live without a job, with your home destroyed, your family in danger, constantly losing family members, being held up at checkpoints while in labor in the hot sun for 10 hours, no hospitals, no schools, no clean water, no safe food, your farm destroyed or burned or stolen from you, helpless to help your family and loved onesor2. Believe the hype and kill yourself to get to the enemy.Obviously suicide terrorism does NOT help - however, this practice, invented by the Irish, is a way to reach the international world when peaceful protests (which happen almost daily in countries like Iraq and Palestine) never do. But I have to admit, if I personally lived under the first option - I wouldn't blow myself up along with innocent people, but I could understand how someone would rationalize that. Sort of like PTSD logic.Incidentally, before Israel invaded Lebanon two summers ago, only 5% of the population cared about Hezbollah - for the most part, their economy was thriving, people were happy, and they were being left alone after rebuilding after Israel's last occupation of Lebanon. After 1000+ civilians were killed, including the airstrike on those 50 children in a civilian home in Qana? 90% of the population admits to now seeing the benefit of aiding Hezbollah in order to protect themselves. Violence begets violence.
minaminamina minaminamina 8 years
I'm not defending suicide bombings, but a speaker on Palestine put it in perspective for me once, long ago: Options for Palestinian/Iraqi/(insert occupied and oppressed people here): 1. Live without a job, with your home destroyed, your family in danger, constantly losing family members, being held up at checkpoints while in labor in the hot sun for 10 hours, no hospitals, no schools, no clean water, no safe food, your farm destroyed or burned or stolen from you, helpless to help your family and loved ones or 2. Believe the hype and kill yourself to get to the enemy. Obviously suicide terrorism does NOT help - however, this practice, invented by the Irish, is a way to reach the international world when peaceful protests (which happen almost daily in countries like Iraq and Palestine) never do. But I have to admit, if I personally lived under the first option - I wouldn't blow myself up along with innocent people, but I could understand how someone would rationalize that. Sort of like PTSD logic. Incidentally, before Israel invaded Lebanon two summers ago, only 5% of the population cared about Hezbollah - for the most part, their economy was thriving, people were happy, and they were being left alone after rebuilding after Israel's last occupation of Lebanon. After 1000+ civilians were killed, including the airstrike on those 50 children in a civilian home in Qana? 90% of the population admits to now seeing the benefit of aiding Hezbollah in order to protect themselves. Violence begets violence.
Nickey Nickey 8 years
I would think that it was the latter reason. It's unfortunate, but I believe that the women over there are being strongly coerced into doing this.
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 8 years
I am not sure why there would be more female suicide bombers now than before, my sister had mentioned to me that a lot of the women in the Middle East probably choose to give their lives due to the poor quality of life they have.
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