ATbar Gender, Palestinian Women, and Terrorism: Women’s Liberation or Oppression?

Gender, Palestinian Women, and Terrorism: Women’s Liberation or Oppression?

13/05/2007 | by Multiple Authors  
By Dr. Anat Berko and Ms. Edna Erez
Prior literature on women's participation in terrorism has paradoxically interpreted this involvement as a sign of women's newfound empowerment, and as an indication of ongoing gender oppression. The study examines the hypothesis that Palestinian women's involvement in terrorism indicates women's liberation.
The data are derived from in-depth interviews with fourteen women who were detained or incarcerated in Israeli prisons for security offenses. The interviews shed light on the women's pathways to terrorism, the roles that they play in terrorist activity, and the aftermath of their security offenses within Palestinian society and culture.
The study underlines the "no return" option and "no win" situation that Palestinian women who embark on terrorist activities encounter. The results demonstrate that although some women became involved in terrorism due to the sense of liberation that it provided, the women largely became disempowered in the aftermath of their offenses; rather than receiving praise for their activism as they had expected, they were shunned by others for their violation of gender expectations, and failure to fulfill traditional gender roles.
The social and personal costs of involvement in terrorism for Palestinian women are analyzed, and policy implications of the findings for theory and practice are discussed.
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