Terror groups recruiting more women, says study

Terror groups recruiting more women, says study
Women involved in jihadism-inspired terrorism.
NEW YORK, APR 30 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/30/2019 11:41:10 AM IST

Terrorist organisations may be recruiting more women, suggests a study evaluating the characteristics of women involved in jihadism-inspired terrorism.

For the study, the researchers drew on data from the Western Jihadism Project, based at Brandeis University in the US. The project collects data on terrorists associated with organisations inspired by Al-Qaeda.

The researchers conducted comparative analyses of 272 women and 266 men for the study.

“Thirty four per cent of the women, in our sample, were born after 1990, while only 15 per cent of men were born after 1990. Since we were able to control for age at radicalisation, this suggests an increase in women’s involvement in terrorist groups,” said study co-author Sarah Desmarais, Associate Professor at North Carolina State University in the US.

Researchers found significant differences between men and women in their backgrounds and roles within terrorist groups. For example, only two per cent of women had a criminal background before radicalisation, compared with 19 per cent men. 

And while about 14 per cent men had no profession in the six months preceding their affiliation with a terrorist group, almost 42 per cent of women were unemployed during the same period.

The research also highlighted different roles for women in terrorist action. “Women were less likely than men to be involved in planning or carrying out terrorist attacks,” said lead author of the study Christine Brugh from North Carolina State University.

“Only 52 per cent of the women were involved in plots, compared with 76 per cent men,” Brugh said.

“In many ways, roles of women in these terrorist groups are consistent with traditional gender norms,” Desmarais said, adding women were more likely to play behind-the-scenes roles aimed at supporting the organisation.

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