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What drives women to radicalization?

  • Published at 12:05 am November 20th, 2018
Rene Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh BIPSS
Rene Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh, speaks at the discussion on Monday Dhaka Tribune

'The factors that push women to join terrorist, extremist, and armed groups vary from economic, political, psychological, social, and ideological factors'

Women and girls’ participation in violent conflicts can be a result of forcible recruitment and abduction or it can be a voluntary decision based on certain personal experiences and incentives provided to them, said experts at a conference on Monday. 

In her keynote presentation “New Trends of Radicalism: Understanding Drivers of Female Radicalism”, Umme Wara, assistant professor of the Criminology Department, University of Dhaka said:  “A variety of different factors make women and girls willing and proactive agents in violent extremism.”

“The factors that push women to join terrorist, extremist, and armed groups vary from economic, political, psychological, social, and ideological factors,” she added during the presentation that focused on the drivers of female radicalization such as the position of women in the family unit, dynamics perceived to be regulated by religious norms, dominant religious identity and sympathy for in-group perceived victimization globally.  

She was speaking at “Prevention of Violent Extremism from A Gender Perspective” a national conference organized by the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS).

Rene Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh, who was the chief guest at the discussion, said violent extremism is a global challenge that tremendously affects women and girls in society. 

“To deal with violent extremism, we should emphasize on incorporating gender aspects in prevention of violence extremism (PVE) strategies and action plans,” he said. 

President of BIPSS, Major General ANM Muniruzzaman: “There is a new trend of radicalization among women in Bangladesh which is adding a new dimension to the threat scenario of violent extremism in Bangladesh.”

“Since women form half the population, they have to be integrated in any response strategy for an effective PVE,” he added.

The first presentation of the day was by Dr Lailufar Yasmin, deputy director (International Affairs) of Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs, on “Understanding Radicalism: The Conceptual Framework”.

The presentation gave an overview of historical accounts of radical thoughts, its shift in modern times and how the concept of “radicalization” is associated with terrorism and how it converges. 

“Violent extremism is regarded as the willingness to use violence, or to support the use of violence, to further particular beliefs of a political, social, economic or ideological nature’’ she added.

The second working session was “Female Radicalization: The Role of Media” and the keynote presentation was given by Ayesha Kabir, consulting editor of Prothom Alo’sEnglish online paper. 

She said: “Active and direct roles of women in radicalization also need to be revealed and highlighted as this invisible force is deadlier than ever.” 

The conference ended with the fourth session: “Preventing Female Radicalism: Perspectives of Law and Enforcement” and the presentation was made by Md Monirul Islam, chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime.

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