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Dispelling notions


Ultimate weapon ... the cyanide capsule.

  • "THE idea of sacrifice as something spiritual and noble is one that pervades Tamil Hindu literature," says Mangalika Silva, coordinator of Women for Peace in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Silva has dedicated her life to researching and writing about the role of women in the civil war in Sri Lanka. Women fighters often carry pictures of Dhanu (the human bomb) for strength and protection. "The self-sacrifice of the female bomber is almost an extension of the idea of motherhood in Tamil culture," says Silva. "In a strongly patriarchal society, Tamil mothers make great sacrifices. Acting as a human bomb is an accepted offering for a woman who will never become a mother."

  • Today, almost half the estimated members of the LTTE are women. Many are recruited as children to join the ranks of the Black Tigers. Thus the participation of women is part of a military strategy aimed at inflicting maximum damage to the enemy, as women are perceived to be less threatening in public places. The LTTE is one of the few rebel groups that uses women not just as suicide bombers, but as frontline troops fighting against a conventional army.

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