Seeing as the reality is that our future will begin to (likely) reveal more women like Hayat Boumeddiene who become “accomplices” of terrorism, one thing is very pressing on my mind. How are we going to handle these situations? Are we going to treat them just as we do the men? Or will there be some understanding that they are perhaps coerced into these acts by the men they think love them?

This story is unfolding before my eyes as I struggle to reconcile a lot of confusion inside myself. Just earlier today as I sat in my therapist’s office, I told her how my own family says that I am “at fault” for many things that happened to me because I “went along with it.”….Initially I was taken as a 15 year old girl, and now I’m starting to realize that (I think) I have stockholm syndrome. So with all of that being said, I will admit up front that perhaps my view of what’s going on is bias, skewed, distorted, confused, contorted, or even just plain wrong. But on the other hand I’ve lived within the world of domestic violence long enough to know that women do really really stupid things for the men they love. I’ve also witnessed as a Correction’s Officer, women get locked up due to acts that were initially instigated by their boyfriends/husbands. Not to say the woman wasn’t at fault – she was. But to say that perhaps her guilt is lessened because of the fact that she is a victim too, whether she knows it or not…

I have not been involved in anything to this large scale, but I will admit that I have broken the law to do what a man told me, because I loved him. I don’t know if they would be considered things that are a “big deal.” I’ve never hurt anyone. I would do things like sneak into bars with him when I was underage (still a minor.) He coached me on how to act older so we got away with it. I snuck in small little things when he was in prison. Things that could be handed off easily during visitation by the vending machines. Nothing harmful…but it would have still gotten me in BIG trouble if I had gotten caught. So I totally….TOTALLY understand how women can get sucked in to doing things they wouldn’t normally do simply because the man they love (or shall I say the man they THINK they love) is telling them to do so.

So my position is that with the possibility of female terrorist becoming part of the future, I advocate that they be treated differently. I advocate that they be treated as victims of domestic violence.  Again….I may be totally wrong in suggesting that, but somehow I cannot help but shake off the feeling that she was simply doing what her “man” told her to do. She needs protection, and help. Professional help.

What do you think we should do about female terrorists? Do they deserve to be treated as victims of abuse? After all, women in the Muslim world don’t have a say or a vote in a lot of things anyway. I think they need to be protected. What do you think?

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RE: I've got to go with Unseen here. Forgive me if I'm being insensitive @Belle but I think a lot of the ways you talk describe women in terms of "doing what their men tell them to do" may be due to your own experiences. You've talked a lot on here about your past and it seems to seep through on posts like this. My first experience of females was my mother and sister when I was a child and neither of them took any shit from any man. 

Yes Simon, but your experiences of strong women is in the context of growing up in a country where women are already empowered. What current choices does a woman have in a Muslim country NOT to go along with what her husband "tells her to do?" Remember we're talking about in some places, women truly have NO voice, no vote, and what her husband says - goes.

I do not deny that my past experiences color the way I think about this. But on the other hand, my past experiences allow me to understand it better. My past experiences allow me to empathize in a way that I otherwise could not. I was in a relationship for a year where I was brainwashed into submission the way these women are. My boyfriend at the time had a Muslim roommate. Much of the way I was treated was basically told that I do what I'm told. I don't see that these women have a choice NOT to do as they are told.

I'm half on board with you Simon and half on board with Belle. If we are talking about women aiding "Islamic" terrorists then she does have a point. As for suicide bombers...no...I'm rather sure most bombers have consciously made their own decision as well as gunmen. To even make it to that point I think is a relatively difficult task that only stronger women would be able to do (though that's a little speculative and not important).

The role of women in a lot of muslim countries is a role that a lot of us cannot understand. While we cannot see the majority of women as locked up face slapped dogs (though they most certainly exist) much of their lives and the decisions they make are based on coercion and that is part of faith and law. If your father or husband does not want to you leave the house, study in University, have a job, travel somewhere...you legally cannot. If you disobey them they are allowed to punish you (though in some countries this punishment is strictly regulated though I'm not so sure about enforcement).

In light of this enviroment it is rather easy to see that women of terrorists (not women terrorists but the wives, sisters, daughters of terrorists) are likely to have been coerced some or all of the way and this should be kept in mind when meeting out responsibility and punishment.

I don't think women helping out terrorists should be tried separately from men aiding terrorists it should be rigorously investigated just how much of what the women did was done willingly. In the most extreme cases I still don't think this is an excuse. Helping build a dirty bomb should only be excused if you were under extreme extraordinary duress, manipulation and violence.

I think I agree with Unseen here. If we're going to start talking about people being coerced into terrorism, why are we singling out women? Isn't just about every terrorist (and I'd argue every religious person) a victim of coercion? Make no mistake, this is a life or death battle that the West is currently engaged in. Are we really going to be making different judgement calls based on an individual's motivation for their participation in terrorist activity? Whether a terrorist is committing their atrocities thinking that a man loves them or that they will get 72 virgins in paradise makes no difference to me.

Let's give women a little more credit than that. I believe that a Muslim man and a Muslim woman have the same mental capabilities to make their own decisions. And when they decide to help kill innocent people in the name of Allah, they should be punished equally. As for children who haven't the faculties to make their own decisions, and for those who truly have no say, consideration must be given for them.

The women  are all victims of brain washing by a religious cult.  They are unable to think clearly and the process of freeing them from their mind forged manacles is made much more difficult by their lack of an education.  That is why so many woman are forbidden to receive an education.  While it is easy to feel compassion for them, we must recognize that thy may never be free in their mind and they will continue to desire martyrdom.  We must there for guard against these woman just as much as we guard against their male equivalent. 

And male terrorists aren't brainwashed? Hmmm...

You need an education to know that terrorism is wrong? Hmmm...

Did you know that the male terrorists who brought down the twin Trade Towers in the 9/11 attack were all well educated, and who can say they were not brainwashed.

We must guard against jumping to the conclusion that women can't arrive at the same political positions as men on their own and not only when they are in the thrall of men.

I think I understand your line of thinking but I see no reason the same logic couldn't/shouldn't be applied to men in the same situation. On this site we sometimes mention the fact that religious zealots are clearly brainwashed.

What if the woman in question is from a western country, grew up in a non-Muslim environment and, as an adult, meets an extremist whom she finds attractive. She has to make decisions about continuing that relationship. Being impressionable, naive, or gullible is not going to carry a lot of weight in a court of law. That is the very defense the surviving extremist bomber is going to use in the Boston marathon bombing trial. He was supposedly brainwashed by his now dead older brother. That 'dog won't hunt.'

For women who are married to men who are involved with terrorist activity, what current incentives to they have to exposing them or turning them in BEFORE they commit an act of terrorism?

Is it possible that offering women protection who DO turn them in BEFORE they execute an attack could be a part of the long term solution towards combating terrorism?

Women are already seen and treated as chattel in the Muslim world. I see no reason why we shouldn't believe that there are already hundreds of thousands of women who "know something" about a lot of terrorist activity. Why aren't we empowering them to step forward and in return for their cooperation they would be offer asylum?

Otherwise the way I see it we will start to see more women becoming "accomplices.". For those of you who say they should be "treated the same" that only works if you already live in a culture that views women as people. We're talking about nations that view women as property. They are NOT the same in those countries! We talk about it all the time on TA how women and children are being exploited, and yet we are doing nothing to provide them assistance if they were to do the right thing.

The way I see it, the current state of affairs makes it so that they do not have a choice. If we provide a means under the law to give them a choice that would actually protect them, then I could justify "treating them as equals." Until then I see them being used as pawns to commit acts of terror.

The reason is that you don't see groups of women instigating these efforts? Unless I am grossly mistaken, it is masterminded, executed, and intentionally done by MEN. If you can give me one example of an executed terrorist attack that has been masterminded by a woman using a "male accomplice" then I will graciously recant. Until then, I see no evidence that women have the same power to make a choice in the matter. The only choice they currently have is to stand behind their husbands.

Despite my earlier comment, I take the point that because, in general, Muslim women are given less freedom than, say, American women we should perhaps then treat them differently. This is not to do with them being women per se, but due to how their society is treating them.

One thing that would make any kind of empowerment difficult is that the men in such a society would make every effort to block any kind of individual dialogue with the women. 

Yes the men would cause an uproar and it could possibly make their control over women even worse....but I think that makes it all the more important that if the UN were to offer some kind of international policy protecting women who become informant, they would HAVE to follow through with protecting her! They would have to because her life would depend on it. No fuck ups. No mistakes. They would have to do it right.
RE: This is not to do with them being women per se, but due to how their society is treating them

EXACTLY!

The woman in question in the case of the Charlie massacre was a "common law wife" (live in girlfriend) and there's no indication she was anything other than "in for a dime, in for a dollar." Fully committed. 

Rather than offering help, which might backfire by providing a rationale for doing nothing ("Well, I've always got the support of such and such if I want to get out of this situation"), it might be more productive to leave them with the current option ("I'd better turn him in, otherwise I'll be treated as a co-conspirator").

I'm not sure how scared I am of women becoming accomplices because so far (and this includes the Charlie slaughter), they don't seem to play a huge role, which makes sense given Islam's attitude toward women as lesser-abled beings.

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