Women unwilling victims of radicalisation, UN report shows - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Women unwilling victims of radicalisation, UN report shows

Violet Kemunto
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As Kenya remembers the 173 citizens who died in the August 7, 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi, global terrorism trends show that women are increasingly taking active roles in terror attacks.

But available evidence shows that a majority of women get radicalised involuntary as opposed to men.

According to a United Nations report, there is a rise in the number of women getting recruited into terrorism globally.


The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2019 handbook on gender dimensions of criminal justice responses to terrorism notes that the roles men and women play in promotion of terror are often based on prevailing gender roles and stereotypes.

The book notes that women are often subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, forced and early marriages, sexual slavery, rape or forced domestic labour, which clearly make them victims of crime.

But they are equally dangerous as the report says they are also used as human shields during attacks as well as suicide bombers.

It also notes that forced conscripts may in the initial stages be turned into spies circulated in government controlled areas as messengers, recruiters and smugglers before they are forced to carry ammunition or participate in operations.


This is because terrorists know that women are less likely to be stopped and searched in public because they are less often considered a threat.

For that reason alone, the book says there has been increased use of female bombers across the world in countries such as Israel, Nigeria, Iraq, the Chechen Republic and Palestine.

In Kenya, the recent terror attack at DusitD2 is partly believed to have been aided by Violet Kemunto, wife of one of the attackers, Ali Salim Gichunge.

Kemunto is believed to have fled to Somalia after the bloodletting that left 21 people dead.

A day before the attack, Kemunto, using a pseudonym, attempted to sell their home’s property on Facebook.

She indicated that she and her husband were moving out of the country.


She is also alleged to have used a courier to transport some of her personal belongings to Mandera but failed to pick them up when they arrived.

Though her role in the attack was described as key, police are yet to make it public.

And while UNODC advocates for the separation of people convicted of violent extremism from other prisoners, countries that do not have resources are yet to establish separate remands, a factor that could promote radicalisation in prisons.


The book cites the Kenya Prisons Service, which in one case decided to keep a convicted violent extremist with other prisoners to avoid isolation but ensured careful monitoring to prevent her from radicalising others.

In another case, still in Kenya, the service separated two sibling female violent extremists from the rest of the inmates, as they were attempting to radicalise the other prisoners.

“The sisters were kept together but separate from other prisoners,” the report notes.

Kenya Prisons Service Commissioner-General Wycliffe Ogalo has confirmed that Kenya now has separate facilities for terror suspects of both genders.

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