Women in Extremist Terrorism: Building social awareness after Easter Sunday attack

Women in Extremist Terrorism: Building social awareness after 
Easter Sunday attack. 

Women in Extremist Terrorism: Building social awareness after Easter Sunday attacks. 

We live in a century where we talk about women empowerment and their security. Whereas, terrorist groups empower women to expand their caliphate and indoctrinate families. Female members were successful in their operational attacks where, a pregnant woman triggered a bomb with her infant at the time of arrest. Taking your own children as hostages; just to follow religious extremist believes, peruse her loyalty to the group.

Sri Lankans have experienced much of brutal violence in our history, which slayed us time to time. As its’ new episode; Easter Sunday attack series created a new pathway for pile of insecurities and instability. 

Win – win situation

Even before the Easter Sunday attack; Sri Lankans were familiar to female suicide bombers and affiliates of terrorist groups due to 30 years’ experience with LTTE. Even other international extremist terrorist groups like Boko Haram, Al- Qaeda and ISIS recruit female affiliates as combatants or non-combatants globally. Women are the most sensitive factor in the security of a country. However they have been targeted in primary stages of extremism and terrorism. Women participation gives an establishment to extremist terrorist groups even in a male-dominated society as she could be recruited by non-other than her father, brother or husband. Extremist terrorists benefited by women subjection and use sexual abuse to terrify the society and to force the acceptance for unacceptable blood relations through which they establish their ideologies.  

As Saba Noor and Daniela Hussain; being in male-dominated local society, women has lower access to decision making, education and livelihood opportunities. Similarly deterioration of law and order, political and religious ignorance, a biased social structure and poverty; women tend to look for the hegemony through membership of the extremist terrorist group. And to gain access to power and to recourses which they do not gain in their localities, for which women become sympathetic towards the group after the exposure to its ideology. Female recruitments are not less than males, they take up greater operational roles in virtual sphere to facilitate the stronghold of the group.

With the access to new technology and successful debates on human security and democracy; doors are open to an extraordinary exposure to radical ideologies exhibit by extremists and the engagement to social media. Violent extremist rebels radicalize democratic, socio-religious ideologies and misguide the human security concept to suit their religious betrayal through social media to retaliate to its new trends also to face new challenges. Extremist terrorist use social media actively to deliver their ideas targeting women recruits, through whom they could further established in the country.

Women psychology could create strong emotional attachments and long lasting existence in ideologies than men that could benefit them to last for long and to train new recruit’s devastating moral. Through extremist’s religious misconduct using women as a shield to gain strategic advantages; depressed and desperate females seek to purify self for their past sins, are convinced to die as “martyr” and trained to suicide in public places. Women have been brainwashed and mesmerized by extremist religious ideologies which gives them wings to be purified and men have been brainwashed by promising “wives”

The propaganda of extremist terrorist groups stabilize the image of hyper masculinized, “real men” bearing weapons to establish their so called legitimacy of the extremist territory and protecting their females where women were idealized as supporters and victims, needing rescue by “real men”. Moreover; wives to be obedient to her husband, whom they owe their life for.

Extremist terrorist groups promote the ideology of females as secondary- citizens. They are recognized as facilitators and supporters. Therefore it upholds women responsibilities towards the group to facilitate and support their saviors “real men”. 

Thinking things through for social awareness

As per Jamille Bigio and Rachel Vogelstein, women could recognize unusual behaviors and radicalization acts in its fundamentals. Women substantially possible to become early victims than men and it is visible through public harassments, unethical law and order, strict dress requirements.

The counterterrorism agenda and programs to stabilize livelihood, have shown limited attention on awareness in recruiting female to extremist group; followed by the Easter Sunday attacks. Women were attached to the group as violent either non-violent affiliates who had played a supportive role for the brutal attack. Towards building the awareness and to empower women is one of the identical requirement to face the post – attack vulnerability. It does not identify limitations for females using social media or having tremendous liberal ideas but to be aware of the difference in ideologies of extremist intentions to carry the wrong religious ideologies to indoctrinate families.

After the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka, couple of relatives of suicide attackers were supportive for investigations carried out. Their moral and the attitude determined their religious believes that could not harm any living being.

Educating both men and women on real religious ideologies and provide access to religious debates and publications in order to create a solid religious awareness, could eradicate miscomprehensions on religion and they will be lower possibility for them to be misled.  

Ekminee Malavipathirana

MPhil/ PhD Candidate

Faculty of Graduate Studies,

University of Colombo.


(Views expressed are authors own, Published by INSSSL)