Saturday, October 18, 2008

Female Suicide Bomber

CNN had a story about a suicide bomber who wounded 5. The perpetrator was a woman. The headline reads, “Female Suicide Bomber Wounds 5 In Iraq.” Wounding 5 people is important, and a big deal, but if the perpetrator was a man, it probably wouldn’t have been on the front page of the website. Maybe if five people were killed, because suicide bombing is still a fascinating occurrence to Westerners, but probably not if there were no casualties. At a time when hundreds if not thousands of people are killed every day in a variety of gruesome ways, five people being wounded is not terribly earth-shattering. Saying “Female bomber” is an example of othering; a male suicide bomber is just a suicide bomber, but a female suicide bomber must is specifically a female suicide bomber. Police ended up killing her as she exploded her vest.
I think the reason why this was front-page worthy is because most readers are more horrified at a female suicide bomber, because women are supposed to be kind and caring and nurturing, not destructive. It seems that women suicide bombers are less common than males, but, in the article it says that more there have been more than 30 cases of female suicide bombers so far this year, showing that it is not uncommon.
The Earth, a British news source, has a more detailed story about the woman, explaining that there have been increased warnings about female suicide bombers, because they can pass by easier since Islamic law prevents guards from touching women while searching them.
This suggests that female suicide bombers seem are taking advantage of cultural gender norms to infiltrate places that men would have difficulty entering. If instances like this continue to happen, will traditional Islamic law be reevaluated or reinterpreted to allow for women to be searched more thoroughly? Will they find some alternative possibility, such as employing more female guards who could search women without breaking as much with cultural norms?

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