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Re: Female Suicide Bombers in Nigeria: How Did We Get Here?

We are all confounded by the emergent phenomenon of female suicide bombers. My last week’s article merely sought to explore the possib...

We are all confounded by the emergent phenomenon of female suicide bombers. My last week’s article merely sought to explore the possible triggers for this truly scary development. I didn’t pretend to know the answers. 

A reader who hasn’t given me permission to reveal her name emailed comments to me that said she was “struck by [my] naiveté regarding the challenges faced by Muslim Hausa girls,” adding: “I thought that your idea that it is the boys who are ‘thrown out’ betrays a certain lack of consciousness of gendered nature of disparities. I saw this report in Sahara Reporters (“14-Year-Old Girl Set To Undergo Murder Trial Over Forced Marriage”) which reminds me of the big wahala of forced marriage, sexual exploitation of children and its impact on their health. Please don't forget that Boko Hram talks about selling children into marriage.”

I frankly don’t know how forced marriage and sexual exploitation, which are age-old problems, have contributed to the rise of female suicide bombers in Nigeria. Well, read below the thoughts some other readers shared with me.

You are right that we have reached a creepy new phase in Nigeria. But it may get even creepier. I suspect that the next thing Boko Haram will do is to use children as suicide bombers. That would just be the end of Nigeria as we know it. If even children can’t be trusted to be innocent, harmless little creatures, we are finished! Everybody and everything will be suspected. Our lives have been turned upside down now. But it can only get worse, sadly. People used to run for dear lives when they saw bearded person heading their way. Then they started running when they saw people on motor cycles because Boko Haram initially bombed through motor cycles. Then we became afraid of cars. Now, we are made to be afraid of women in hijab. What next will we be made afraid of? It’s just so tiring.
Musa Isa

Your suspicion that the suspect arrested in connection with the assassination attempt on General Muhammadu Buhari was a “made-up suspect” may be right. His mother has said that the “suspect” is well-known in the neighborhood as a mentally disturbed person who cross-dresses. Nigerian security forces can turn anybody into a “suspect” or even a “convict” just to give the public the impression that they are working.
Stephen Yakubu

I really cherish your informative insight about this wanton and brutal heartlessness. But your theories haven't covered other freshly manufactured speculations that are being peddled in Kano! And, although it is just a hunch, it is growing beyond the borders of gossip. Politicians and the sage elders in Kano are formulating some political undertones about these incidents! I wonder if Professor could look into this aspect critically and feed us afterwards with his findings!
Mubarak Ibrahim

My mind is already wrenched and bleeding over the ongoing massacre in Gaza by the Israeli forces, and, unfortunately the disturbing news of these female suicide bombers adds insult to injury. What could have motivated a female to carry out such dastardly attacks is indeed a puzzle. You are not being naïve, Prof. and, yes, your theories are possibilities. However, no doubt they are, or at least one of them, is a female. Her picture has been viral on cyberspace. She typically looks female. Again, I believe no degree of despair could have motivated that; it’s simply a polluted indoctrination injected into their brains by Boko Haram members. For instance, in the Kano Polytechnic incident, the bomber was brought in an expensive car, according to eyewitness accounts. She was again looking posh. I think their deluders simply concoct more hadiths and misinterpret more Qur’anic verses, as they always do, to justify the deadly act. And, chauvinistically speaking, women are said to have a moderate thinking faculty; thus, they easily buy the ideology and carry it out.
Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim

'Feelings of deep hurt and hopelessness'' are the major drivers to suicide bombing in addition to a sense of loss and brain washing.
Abubakar Umar

Another possibility is that they may have been forced by Boko Haram to carry out the bombings, possibly afraid that noncompliance may result in their families being massacred. Thanks for the link to [the US Army’s] “Female Suicide Bombers.” It is quite interesting as well.
Njong Suka

These suicide bombers are girls, not men dressed in women's clothing. I subscribe to the argument that they are probably forced (as opposed to being brainwashed given how long it takes to indoctrinate people towards a nihilist ideology) with threats to their families perhaps to engage in these acts.
Zainab Usman

 I think women may also resort to suicide bombings if their husbands died in the same course. They may be seduced into believing that they will meet their husbands in heaven if they blow themselves up instead of continuously remaining stranded widows. This is very probable!
Aliyu Bashir Almusawi
You say we should dismiss conspiracy theories as ridiculous. But sometimes we see elements of truth in it. Now remember the abduction of the Chibok school girls. Most people now suspect that they are bewitched to the suicides we see today. Back to conspiracy theory, it suggests that a person can be hypnotised through drugging and psychological manipulations. Such person when hypnotised can go and commit what he will otherwise not do in his normal senses.
Ibrahim Muhammad Kurfi 

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