Why Does the Tigress Roar? Exploring the Role of Female Suicide Bombers in the LTTE
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Why did women join the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and why did they then become suicide bombers?” There is no single psychological profile of a terrorist. Terrorism is a political action, not a disease or mental health problem. Recognition of this fact removes the study of terrorists from the field of criminal psychology and demands the study of terrorists as rational, and violent, political actors. It also means that it is important to study the operations of individual terrorist groups and examine the historical, social, and political trends that inform their decisions. This paper studies female suicide bombers in the LTTE from both an organizational and individual level. I argue that “the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s break from traditional Tamil and Sri Lankan gender norms in a time of war, when women were particularly vulnerable to attack, made joining the LTTE an attractive option for Tamil women. On a personal level, women used suicide attacks to escape and seek revenge for rape, to find gender equality, and to deal with coercion from the LTTE and constraints within society.