Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Black Widows

The horrible bombings in Moscow have drawn attention to the gender of the suicide bombers there. The New York Times :

The women, who came to be called the Black Widows, were not the first women to die this way. That dubious honor goes to a 16 year old Palestinian girl, who drove a truck into an Israeli army convoy in 1985. The Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was killed in 1991 by a member of the Birds of Paradise, a female group associated with the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

Suicide bombing was a tactic that came late to Chechnya and was nearly unknown during the first war from 1994 to 1996. But once it arrived, in 2000, in an attack that killed 27 Russian special forces soldiers, it quickly became associated with women.


While there is no single reason women decide to give up their lives, experts say they have usually suffered a traumatic event that makes them burn with revenge or question whether they want to live. This can be the death of a child, husband or other family member at the hands of Russian forces or a rape. Russian authorities have said the women are sometimes drugged.

And why do men become suicide bombers or terrorists? What drives them to do that?

That question is not asked as often which is insulting to men. It's as if all men could just become suicide bombers and we don't really have to wonder about the reasons they have, however distorted they may be.