The Black Widows of Chechnya: Overview and Motivation

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The decades' old Chechen conflict has not received much media coverage in the West; however, there has been one aspect of this struggle which has been reported upon: female suicide bombers, known as “Black Widows”. Various sources attribute their actions to being victims who suffered traumatic loss of loved ones, brainwashing by Islamist zealots, being rape and/or being drugged. In my paper, I sought to learn more about the motivations of these women to see if there is more behind than what I perceived to be stereotypical reasons for their actions offered in the media. I discovered that their reality and motivation is complex, based on past and recent history of Chechnya and the culture of indigenous Chechen society. To better understand the current situation, it is important to understand the relationship between Chechnya and Russia. Prior to 1994, Chechnya was a secular Muslim “state” within the former USSR and the Russian Federations. As the Russian Federation began to assume its standing in the place of the USSR, the former member states of the USSR pushed for various recognitions of independence within the proposed federative treaty. In March 1992, the Republic of Chechnya refused to sign the treaty and formally declared its independence from Moscow. Chechnya was the only entity to make this declaration and attempt at secession among Russia’s 89 republics and region. (6) In 1994, under the direction of then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Chechnya’s independence aspirations were quashed when Russian forces attacked and effectively leveled Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city. The result was a truce, lasting from 1996-1999. During this timeframe, Chechen separatists began bombing various pro-Russian government and ... ... middle of paper ... ...'Connor, Alisa. "Picked Last: Women and Terrorism." Joint Force Quarterly. Version Issue 44,. National Defense University Inst for National Strategic Studies, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. . 18 Struckman, S.. "The Veiled Women And Masked Men Of Chechnya: Documentaries, Violent Conflict, And Gender." Journal of Communication Inquiry 30.4 (2006): 337-353. Print. 19 West, Jessica. "Feminist IR and the Case of the Black Widows: Reproducing Gendered Divisions." Innovations - A Journal of Politics 5 (2004): 1-16. www.ucalgary.ca. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. 20 Zimmer, Ben. "How Black Widows Became Spiders - and Terrorists." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2014. . .

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