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Suicide Terrorism: Why Are Sri Lanka's Women Blowing Themselves Up? - Page 2

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Suicide Terrorism: Why Are Sri Lanka's Women Blowing Themselves Up?
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Recently the Norwegian government funded the movie My Daughter the Terrorist, which explores the paths of two female Black Tigers. The film raises an important question for me - how can a government, especially one that has been acting as a peace facilitator in Sri Lanka, agree to fund a movie when suicide and suicide bombing are deplored the world over? Though there have been different interpretations of the film, the Sri Lankan embassies have objected saying it sends the wrong signals to youngsters by glorifying suicide bombers on film.

But it also makes an important point about how politicized the world has become. Though many become cadres believing that the militant outfit is giving its all for "the cause," it's more likely that these men and women have been brainwashed and even drugged. Throughout the world, militant groups often sedate their cadres, sometimes in their food, to ensure loyalty and obedience. This partially explains how young men and women could choose to remain in the most challenging of conditions -- often in the jungles, exposed to the elements, enduring the mosquitoes, without proper nutrition or even clean sheets or towels.

Though no official statistics exists, some reports claim that there are as many as 5,000 child recruits in the LTTE, accounting for 30 percent of the group's brigade. Young boys, forcefully taken by the LTTE from their mothers' arms, grow up knowing nothing more than hero worship for their militant leader. Childhood pranks are soon replaced by shooting at government armed forces in cold blood. Young girls are also taken against their wills, forced to strip and change into tiger attire - their dreams of home replaced by rigorous, early morning training sessions, LTTE indoctrination, tasteless meals and ultimately, a suicide mission.

Is this what these women suicide cadres want from life? Is this what they really want to be remembered as? Have they simply buried their old identities, giving up the desire to have or career or a family? Or is there something more to this gruesome exploitation of women? Even the LTTE leader's only daughter did not become a member of the elite Black Tigers, showing the obvious hypocrisy of the LTTE's philosophy -- she was sent overseas to study and has never experienced what any of these LTTE women have had to endure.

I think the LTTE is turning to women for its suicide missions because they are less conspicuous and can easily blend into a crowd. Men are prone to greater scrutiny and their movements watched. Similarly, the LTTE targets children as they are able to move quickly in the country's thick jungles and easily escape detection.

The LTTE would have us believe that these women are prepared for their "cause," but we really do not know what goes on in their minds -- none of the journalists I know have ever been able to question these women before their deaths. But a lot can be gleaned from the suicide cadre who was apprehended before carrying out her mission. Today she begs for clemency, begs to be given a new lease on life and asks to be pardoned. She is cooperating with the authorities, helping them obtain vital information about LTTE hideouts and operations. She is also undergoing psychiatric treatment in the course of her rehabilitation and hopefully someday, will lead a peaceful life.

Though we may never really understand what makes these terrorists tick, we do know that the leaders of these groups have brainwashed their followers into carrying out tragedies that serve only their personal desire to achieve power outside of the democratic framework that is accepted by the rest of us. Politicized and polarized, they are hidden in Sri Lanka's jungles, waiting to use their bodies as human shields and bombs for a leader who will stop at nothing to secure a separate state.

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