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Women and terror: women participating in terrorist movements

Research Article

Оксана О Ильченко, Candidate of Sociology associate of other organizaiton, , Candidate of sociological sciences, Assistant Professor, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.
mailto: ilchenjo.oyu@dvfu.ru
Women and terror: women participating in terrorist movements.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2016. Vol. 7. No. 2. P. 130-141

Topic: Terrorism in the sociological dimension

For citation:
Ильченко О. Ю. Women and terror: women participating in terrorist movements. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2016. Vol. 7. No. 2. P. 130-141
DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/vis.2016.17.2.402


This article examines the issue of women partaking in terrorist activities. A distinguishing features of the new wave of terrorism, which began at the end of the 20th century and continues to this day, is getting women actively involved in terrorist activities. The article cites analysis of sociological studies dedicated to female participation in terror, while describing the social portrait of female suicide-bombers. Aside from that, this article showcases the peculiar motivations of women who partake in terrorist activities. Academic literature features two contradictory opinions on the motives behind the behavior of female terrorists: some presume that the motivation to partake in terrorism is the same for both men and women, while others suppose that the nature of female terrorism drastically differs from its male counterpart. In the meantime several explanations are used as “stamps” and transcend from one publication to the next. The author offers two groups of motives for female terrorists, based on data from sociological studies. It is shown that the first group incorporates motives based on a woman’s independent decision to join a terrorist movement (psycho-emotional aspects, a desire to earn some money, development of feminism and aspiring towards self-affirmation). The second group is comprised of motives which imply women joining terrorist organizations by force (blackmail, being directly forced by their husbands or a religious leader, being manipulated by their desire to avenge the loss of someone close, narcotic or psychotropic intoxication). The author comes to the conclusion that, whatever the motives may be for female suicide bombers, these are people who have nothing to lose, and for who nothing is of any value in this life. Using women in our modern world has become a technological element utilized by terrorists to wage war, therefore it is necessary to find a way to prevent women’s involvement in terrorism, and to concentrate on averting the recruitment of new women.


errorism, women terrorism, women suicide bombers, gender


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