Gender and Terrorism (Female Suicide Missions)


Female Tarinign Camp

Photo: Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009, Islamic Jihad women militants run drills during their first training session in the Gaza Strip.

Empirical Data Difficult to Find and Not Complete

The female suicide terrorism studies are still at their beginning and thereby must be studied and questioned. Specific cases are not enough to make general conclusions. Moreover, because of the end result of the action – the very intrinsic nature of suicide - empirical data is difficult to find and far from complete. There is not currently a database that contains all the information of all female suicide acts. Cases of Iraq, Uzbekistan, China, are still to be studied. Many doubts still remain about research methods. The reconstruction of life stories is a difficult task after the death of the perpetrators, and access to unsuccessful ones is very limited. Moreover, the family members are often indoctrinated on order to publicly present the position of the organizations, on behalf of which their members committed suicide acts. The investigations on the theme are still limited in number, but they are increasing, meeting in this way the growing public interest.

Female suicide terrorism is a controversial phenomenon. There are some critical points that should be considered in its investigation.

  • The first is the empirical data: differences in conclusions about its nature and origins that are most often due to differences in facts researchers operate with.
  • Second, gender stereotypes which still stamp our perception of women as victims rather than as victimizers.
  • Third, ideology and beliefs that women who have made a suicide choice continue are fighting for national emancipation.

Overcoming, at least partly,  these three perceptions will contribute to better understanding of this new security challenge. 


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