Gender and Terrorism: Are women victims of or… agents of jihadi terrorism?

Early enough in the war in Syria and Iraq a relatively new phenomenon emerged, male dominated jihadi violence attracted women and young girls who themselves offered to play a role in recruitment and in some cases the battlefield.

Women in combat is not a new phenomenon and there were volunteers in Kurdish forces from around Europe which were not regarded as terrorist fighetrs. Since many of the women have been repatriated while others are serving jail time or have faced the death penalty in Iraq, we discuss the role of gender in jihadi terrorism, how it compares to other terrorist movements and how this factor influences both investigation and prosecution in counter terrorism policy. 

Are women victims of or agents of jihadi terrorism?

TACTICS talks with Seran de Leede who works on the topic of women, gender and political violence as an independent researcher and as an associate fellow for the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), The Hague. 

Ms De Leede states that as far as women and terrorism are concerned "we assume that women are drawn by more emotional factors… but like men, women's behaviour is complex" and adds that "when we look at women supporting ISIS for example we see a complex combination of both personal but also ideological motivations. They seek their identity, they look for a purpose, they see it as their religious obligation, they are convinced there is a war going on against Muslims."

Seran De Leede explainS that what seperates far right and jihadi terrorism are only differences that are embeded in ideology, more specifically she tells us that "when we look at far right extremist groups, women can be just as racist and xenophobic as their male counterparts" adding that "ideological differences aside, the dynamics are very similar, in both groups, we see that they look for a place to belong, protection, a purpose…"

Watch the full discussion on gender and terrorism with Ms Seran de Leede below

Image courtesy of Pixabay user geralt.

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