The Rise of Female Suicide Bombers in Nigeria

(By Abimbola Adelakun)

What motivates them: anger, hate or revenge? If men are said to be driven by the thought of 72 virgins, (quite an enticing offer for a virile male, really) what then drives the women? Coercion? Brainwashing? Money? I have no doubt that their ideological conversion process was no different from that of the men. Only that they probably never considered that their martyrdom benefits only their coordinators,who will not walk the talk when it comes to women having equal social, cultural and political access with them. How did they overlook their social predicament to accept to be dynamites in the hands of their oppressors?

Given the missed chance at assassinating Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) two Wednesdays’ ago, a blitzkrieg of female suicidal bombings, starting Sunday this week, seems intent on compensating for the failure. Except for the Lagos incident where Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed he used a female suicide bomber to set off the explosion, none has claimed responsibility for this emergent phenomenon; maybe, the coordinators are too timid to hoist their flag – yet.

From Borno State where news of terrorists attacks has been regurgitated to the point of banality, to Kano, Kaduna, and Adamawa states, the body count increases. Nigeria has been invaded by a slew of predatory martyrs. And some of them are women in their teenage years.

Whilst pondering the new madness that appears to have made an unrelenting purchase on our national catalogue of theatricalised violence, I note that the ISIS, the new terror of moderate Muslims and liberals who seek an oppression-free society, has tentacles that stretch from the Middle East to parts of Africa and Europe. Their inimitable proxies meanwhile – the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the factions of Libya, Boko Haram and Al-Shabab – have softened the ground for the ISIS triumphant but grim invasion.

Although the map they draw on geopolitical zones of the world is a cause for worry, for now I will rather consign them to the delusional grandeur that propels half-wits to spectacular ruin. Both Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden suffered from a similar megalomania. Presently, I am more worried by the emergence of female predatory martyrs.

Although relatively a novelty in Nigeria, female suicide bombing has existed for years. They are a proof that viciousness has nothing to do with biology. In Russia, Chechnya, Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, women have successfully carried out suicide bombing attacks showing that they are as much political subjects as men. Yet, I wonder, how is it that females, a disadvantaged collective in many measurable modern ways, became the swords of their tormentors?

To paint a startling picture of the abjectness of Nigeria’s female predatory martyrs, northern Nigeria that is now spawning them is one place these women are accorded the status of a third-class citizen. In June, UNICEF noted that Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school: a staggering 10.5 million! A higher percentage of this number is from northern Nigeria with more than 60 per cent being females. A year ago, a former CBN governor and now the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, lamented that 93 per cent of women in northern Nigeria lack as much as secondary education. On top of this educational drawback, there are social, political and cultural disadvantages that dog the women all their lives. Yet, the toga of suicide bombs is now being added to their drudgery.

What motivates them: anger, hate or revenge? If men are said to be driven by the thought of 72 virgins, (quite an enticing offer for a virile male, really) what then drives the women? Coercion? Brainwashing? Money? I have no doubt that their ideological conversion process was no different from that of the men. Only that they probably never considered that their martyrdom benefits only their coordinators,who will not walk the talk when it comes to women having equal social, cultural and political access with them. How did they overlook their social predicament to accept to be dynamites in the hands of their oppressors?

Yes, and they are motivated by the glory of martyrdom. Women who become human bombs are, seemingly, motivated for the same reason other women want to be in the boardroom: to share power and glory with male counterparts.

As it is, female suicide bombers will likely increase over time. The answer might lie in the combination of biology, and politics.

Females, for one, are seen as less threatening and can therefore bypass places where men cannot. She can carry more explosives on her body by simply pretending she is pregnant and due to some particular religion-based clothing, she can hide more materials. The political angle involves the likelihood of the growth of an army of ‘Black Widows,’ victims of the establishment brutality – from the attacks on Maiduguri in 2007 when there was indiscriminate killing of suspected Boko Haram members by men of the Nigerian state – and have worked up enough anger in them to want to strike back in vengeance.

Female suicide bombing, yet, does little to elevate the woman’s status before the paternal class who runs the terrorist establishments. Watch the same Shekau on video boasting about the kidnap of the Chibok girls; how he threatened to sell them for as little as N2, 000 and even marry them off. In his little mind, they are pieces of household furniture he could just dispose of at will.

Some while ago, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in an op-ed piece titled, “And Now, the Ecumenical City of Jos?”, preemptively suggested recruiting women into the Nigerian Army as combat fighters and even creating a special unit of women fighters to confront Boko Haram. He reasoned that if the group loathes women so much, then training women to fight against it would be waging a battle with it at the level of psyche.

He said, “The women have borne the brunt of Boko Haram hatred, disdain, dehumanisation and primordial viciousness. Survivors of their onslaught, and even those who have not undergone any baptism of fire, but have the ‘fire in their belly’ should be encouraged to teach Boko Haram some gender-free truths of human commitment at the war front and the even more primordial call of human liberation, even at the risk of life…. Even the late Qaddafi refused to trust his most intimate safety net to any but a female praetorian guard. Nor should we forget that female combatants were recorded on both sides during the Nigerian civil war…. Nothing unique therefore is proposed here, and of course we are speaking of strict volunteering only, not conscription. The door should be cast open even wider to the gender peers of those whose very presence within the army, even in auxiliary roles, already punctures the warped theology of Boko Haram.”

Now, I think is the time to give the good Prof’s suggestion one more look. Women fighters are nothing new in history. There are historical accounts of how some Ibadan women went to war with men. In one instance, dethroned an Oba. The emergence of female suicide bombers is proof that what a man can do, a woman can do just as well. Let women join the combat against Boko Haram. After all they are already fighting on the side of the enemy.

Source: Abusidiqu

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