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          Female Suicide Bombing: A global trend
Skaine, Rosemarie. “Female Suicide Bombers”. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Print.
Sharpe, Mary. Suicide Bombers: the Psychological, Religious and Other Imperatives. Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS, 2008. Print.

                     Terrorism is becoming a widely growing concern and problem for both the general public and the counterterrorism specialists. It has grasped the whole world into a state of terror. World powers are struggling hard to eliminate it or even contain it to a certain region. The terrorist organizations are inventing newer techniques of fighting to disseminate their cause and campaign. Suicide bombing has become a big weapon for them to spread their movement. Suicide bombings were generally carried out by men but recently women have also joined in this army, creating more troubles and worries for the world.
In the contemporary world literature, a little has been written on the topic of female suicide bombers though it is not a new phenomenon. Mia Bloom, a Canadian expert on terrorism and a political analyst of Middle East countries, has written a great piece of work on the female suicide bombers. In this article, she raises the issue of involvement of female suicide bombers in violence and conflicts around the world. The writer looks into the psyche of these female bombers and their real intentions and motives to get involved in this kind of act. She points out the factors that make them perform this so called courageous deed. She explains that how the engagement of women changes the cultural norms of a society. She examines why in the presence of so many men the need for women to sacrifice themselves emerges. She writes how some of the women are exploited in the name of religion, nationalism and for the better future by the terrorist organizations. She analyses that what drives a weak, meager, nonviolent nature and emotional woman to carry out such a daring job. Why a patriarchal society dominated by men allows them to do this task on behalf of men.

The article focuses on the conflicts going on in the Middle Eastern countries that is Lebanon, Palestine and Chechnya, which was once a part of USSR and Srilanka, a South Asian country. The conflicts in Middle Eastern countries and Chechnya are a struggle of Islamic insurgents against the foreign invaders and these conflicts are viewed as religious conflicts as they are fought for the highness of Islam. While the Srilankan civil war, between Tamil tigers and the Srilankan government, can be regarded as a secular conflict as its sole reason is to get an independent state of their own. The insurgents might be called terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on one’s own perspective.
The writer, Mia Bloom examines the rise of female suicide bombers in these conflicts and analyses it from a neutral point of view. The researcher uses the method of cultural anthropology to conduct her research by looking into the cultural and societal aspect when women get involved in suicide bombings. She doesn’t carry out any fieldwork as she is not an anthropologist but rather uses her own knowledge and experiences as a political analyst to write about female suicide bombers. The author takes the help of newspapers, books, and journals to write about the past activities, like suicide bombings or the apprehensions of suicide bombers, happened in these countries. She also takes interviews directly from the people, from both the groups, involved in these conflicts to cover their perspectives. Previously, this issue has caught a little attention of the researches and intellectuals though it is becoming an increasing threat for the world. The article has helped a lot in understanding the minds of women suicide bombers. Through her research, the writer has shed a light on this rising menace and informed the world about the impact of ignoring this newer technique of terrorism. Thus, the article has assisted the government officials, antiterrorism specialists and nongovernmental organizations in countering the suicide bombings done by women.
The most impressive aspect of Mia Bloom’s article is that it is written with great detail and attention, highlighting every feature of the female suicide bombers. The methodological approaches used in this ethnographic writing include interviews, narratology (story telling) and textual resources like journals, newspapers etc. For example, she takes interviews from many high officials and counter terrorism analysts like Clara Beyler, a former researcher for the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism in Israel, Matti Steinberg, a former special advisor on Arab affairs to the Israeli government. Moreover, she tries to explore the world of female suicide bombers by narrating their true stories in the article. For instance, she recounts the stories of Palestinian and Tamil female suicide bombers. Bloom gets a lot of information, including the stories of different female suicide bombers, from newspapers, magazines and journals, which help readers to get to the point of article in depth.

Bloom in the article points out towards the changing role of women in the society. She says that previously women were regarded as non violent, humble and peace loving but the nature of women has changed especially in conflicted areas. In these areas more women are getting involved in the conflicts. Even the role of women in the conflicts has changed. Historically, women assisted the men in conflicts by doing the job of providing aid, food and water to the warriors or giving births to fighters and raising them in a revolutionary environment. But in today’s world, women are taking the lead roles and getting directly involved in conflicts. One of the direct forms is by carrying out suicide bombings. Many women, since 1985, have sacrificed their lives by detonating themselves. Most of the female suicide bombers are from both the secular and religious insurgent groups of Lebanon, Iraq, Chechnya and Srilanka, though in the past the religious insurgent groups were against the female suicide bombings but their notion is now gradually changing. Bloom writes that despite of the women getting involved in these audacious acts, they are seen by the world as victims and not perpetrators.
The article sheds light on the motives of these female suicide bombers and looks into detail that why do women choose this path. The motives vary: to avenge the personal loss, to redeem the family name, to achieve the sheltered life and achieve fame, or to equalize the patriarchal society in which they live. But generally women carrying out the suicide bombings seek revenge. Bloom discovers this when she looks into the case of Tamil female suicide bombers in Srilanka. The Srilankan army, who were actively fighting against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), committed serious crimes against Tamil people. They would kill civilians in the midst of the conflict, rape the women, destroy their properties and torture the innocent civilians. These atrocities gave birth to the hatred in Tamil women against the army. They would join the insurgent group and carry out suicide bombings to seek revenge for what the army did to their families and society. So their motive was personal rather than ideological. The same revenge seeking motive is shown by the Black widows of Chechnya too. They involved in the conflict and carried out suicide bombings because the Russian army would have killed someone from their families. The other reason for women to become suicide bombers is that they want to equate themselves with men. They participate actively in conflicts so that the perspective of people that women are powerless, weak and subordinate vanishes. Bloom gives the example of Black Widows and says that they become suicide bombers in order to show the strength of resistance. They show that women are not discriminated and are given the chance to show love for their country and religion.  
In the article Bloom tries to explore that why do terrorist organizations recruit women as suicide bombers for their combat against their enemies? She negates the perspective that women are being recruited by male combatants to equate the gender equality in the society. They are being recruited just for a single reason: to spread their cause that is terrorism. She says that once the terrorist groups find out some other sources of spreading their cause and gain successes over their enemies, they would stop recruiting women in their army. At this time they just need more manpower to fight and are using women for this reason. She further writes that women are also used to disgrace men and compel them to fight. She gives an example of a teenage woman suicide bomber who, before going to burst herself out, shames the men by saying that, “I am going to fight instead of the sleeping Arab armies who are watching Palestinian girls fighting alone”. Another reason that women are used as suicide bombers is that women suicide bombers attract more media attention than the male suicide bombers. In a survey it was revealed that women attackers receive eight times more media coverage than male attackers. Through this tactic the insurgent groups can show to the world about their intentions and aims. Women are used as suicide bombers because there is a widespread assumption about the nature of women that they are nonviolent. They can pass the checkpoints and can easily infiltrate into the enemy’s bases. Women can also carry out suicide bombings by disguising their appearance and are less suspicious to their enemies. Using this tactic, a Tamil suicide bomber blew herself up in an army hospital by pretending to be a patient and killed a lot of army soldiers.
Mia Bloom has written the article in a very interesting and great way. She has covered every aspect of the female suicide bombers. But I think there are some ethical issues associated to this ethnographic research. She has repeatedly used the word terrorist organization for the insurgent groups in this article and has related the female suicide bombers with these terrorist organizations. The issue is that one might not know who the terrorists are and who are not. It depends on one’s own perspective and view. The female suicide bombers to whom Bloom is calling terrorists might be freedom fighters from someone’s point of view because they are fighting against the foreign nations who have invaded their countries. So by using this type of language, she could hurt the feelings of many readers.  
The author, with all her efforts, has splendidly done the research about female suicide bombings and reaches to the conclusion that whatever notions the world keep about them, these women are doing something that is immoral and against the humanity. They cannot justify their acts by saying that they are doing this for the sake of seeking revenge or equating themselves with men in patriarchal society. Because there are some universal wrong deeds which cannot be taken into the context of that culture and can be justified and suicide bombing is one of them. And for most of the part, I agree with the author.

By: Jawad Karim Khan ( LUMS )

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