Bombshells with Black Faces: Examining the Intersection between Terrorism, State Failure, and Sexual Gender Based Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa
37 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2012 Last revised: 24 Aug 2015
Date Written: March 5, 2012
At the time of this writing there exist a handful of studies that examine the relationship between fragile states and the emergence of political violence; few that restrict their research to the study of Africa, and even fewer that assess the impact this relationship has on women. In conflict ridden societies where the state has collapsed and there are fledgling political infrastructures, there has been a gross negligence in the protection of women and girls. In failed states, women are at a high risk of becoming the victims of rape and other gender based violence; and while studies have examined this phenomenon and the psychological impact this type of violence has on women, there are few existing studies that evaluate the socio-political impact on women; mainly how exposure to gender based violence influences women’s attitudes towards the key political issues of terrorism and political violence. I raise this issue because in conflict ridden societies where sexual dominance and female inferiority have become institutionalized as a societal norm, there is a propensity for these women, after having been sexually victimized, to cling to their feelings of revenge, which has later been cited as the overwhelming reason why women seek to join and support terrorist organizations. The female suicide terrorism literature supports this assertion, pointing to the victimization and powerlessness of women as the major impetus that motivates females to engage in acts of terrorism. Consequently, using sub-Saharan Africa as the unit of analysis, where terrorism and political violence are on the rise, and conflict, rape and gender based violence are prevalent, I evaluate the attitudes of women, who have been victimized, and their support for political violence. The findings suggest that the international community could soon encounter the emergence of terrorist threats from sub-Saharan Africa with female faces.
Keywords: Africa, rape, terrorism, gender, sexual violence, state failure, conflict, political violence, weak states
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