Some extremist groups who commit atrocious terroristic acts are known to use young males to conduct suicide missions. But they have changed their recruitment methods, as they now target women and girls to conduct suicide missions.
In 2013, Samantha Lewthwaite (in the header image), given the name "White widow" was alleged to be behind the Kenyan shopping mall massacre which left 62 dead and 170 injured. It was a horrific act, but it led to signs of how terrorist groups are changing their faces,changing their modus operandi in committing heinous crimes. Besides the recruitment, the amount of sexual violence that women are subjected to by these groups is deplorable.
This has prompted the British army unit to step up their efforts in tackling threats from female suicide bombers and to curb the sexual violence that goes on. Britain will be spearheading a specialist army training team to tackle female suicide bombers and the sexual violence women suffer in some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The team will assert their presence in East Africa, where the devastating effects of extremist group Al-Shabaab have been felt the most. Al-Shabaab has been launching attacks against the civilian population and cultural sensitivities make the region a volatile one. The team will also include female British soldiers. They will work on helping local forces understand that, while child soldiers may pose a threat, they are victims of any conflict and have rights, including the chance of a normal life.
The team will first operate in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. It could later on expand to Nigeria to tackle the menace of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group which has been kidnapping girls over the years.
Gavin Williamson, the British defence secretary pushing this initiative, said "It’s not just the right thing to do because you want to stop an evil act, but it’s also the right thing to do because it makes places and people more secure."
"Women will talk to women and the [peacekeepers] have been finding a lot more information in Somalia about what is going on in the local community and how organisations such as Al-Shabaab are operating."
"Those women are often in quite conservative, traditional communities, so it’s a massive upside in terms of security because it gives [armed forces] the ability to identify, relate to and speak with communities that they wouldn’t in the past have been able to ... Anecdotally there’s an awful lot of intelligence that comes out of this which is absolutely vital in terms of dealing with those threats."
The plan also aims at tackling sexual violence. Many victims of sexual violence in conflict zones have been targeted on market day or while collecting water, when they are at their most vulnerable.
Header image credit: The Guardian