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Beauty and the Beast: Violence in the Lives of Women and Girls (December 2013): Terrorism and Females

By Karen Evans

Terrorism and Females

Female Terrorism and Militancy, edited by Cindy Ness, offers a look at female terrorists throughout the world.  From Ness’s brief essay on women and modern terrorism, the volume segues into topics such as women as suicide bombers, Chechen Black Widows, members of armed groups in Northern Uganda and Sierra Leone, and women terrorists in Asia.  One chapter focuses on women and racial terrorism in the United States, including the Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, and neo-Nazis.  Terror, Counter-terror: Women Speak Out, edited by Ammu Joseph and Kalpana Sharma, provides an interesting array of essays written by women, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Susan Sontag, and Barbara Kingsolver.  They argue against all forms of terrorism, including counterterrorism.

Women who use suicide bombing as their “voice” is the topic of Rosemarie Skaine’s Female Suicide Bombers.  Skaine defines suicide bombing and examines the history of the act.  Additional chapters review why women, including Palestinian and Chechen women, choose to become suicide bombers.  Wafa Idris responded to Yassar Arafat’s call for Palestinian women to become part of the battle for liberation; she became the first female suicide bomber of the Intifada.  Barbara Victor’s Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers profiles Idris and several women who followed in her footsteps for the cause.  Why did these young women decide to strap on explosives and march into martyrdom?  Victor interviews families and friends to try to understand the choices they made.