Bomb in a Bra: Don’t Cry Baby, Don’t Cry


Two school girls walk past a board that says "Violence No". Bandarawela, Sri Lanka. 10 Nov. 2007. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Two school girls walk past a board that says “No to Violence,” in Sinhala.  Bandarawela, Sri Lanka. 10 Nov. 2007. Photograph©Chulie de Silva


This morning as I sat listening to Paul Simon’s classic “Boy in a bubble” which tells us of a cowardly terrorist bomb in a booby trapped pram, time just fell away– It was a slow day and the sun was beating on the soldiers by the side of the road, there was a bright light shattering the shop windows, the bomb in the baby carriage was wired to the radio – these are the days of miracle and wonder. this is  the long distance call . the way the camera follows us in slow mo,  the way we look to a song…”

On Wednesday (28 Nov. 2007) it was 200 gms of high explosives strapped to a bosom that  went off  when a Tamil female suicide bomber prematurely detonated  the  bomb while on a mission to kill the Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda.  His public relations officer Stevan Peiris and the female bomber Sarawanan Sujantha of Anandapuliyankulam in Vavuniya died. So what makes a woman — in this case a young twenty something — turn herself into a human bomb.  While I mused, I came across the newspaper article by  Shamindra Ferdinando  titled “GBV Forum keeps mum on LTTE bombers,” in “The Island.” (30 November 2007)

The Gender-Based Violence Forum (GBV)  launched a 16-day programme to urge protection for women  along with a media campaign titled ‘Men too, can make a difference. Say NO to Violence Against Women,”  Interestingly, the same day  I watched a key corporate bigwig on this TV ad campaign calling for respect for women at the workplace, the  bomber with her power packed bra made a  different statement for the LTTE (liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).

Fernando’s report says that the LTTE announced that “93 women were among 343 suicide cadres killed in action. The attempt on the life of Devananda was made three days later and interestingly it was the second time a woman suicide cadre attempted to kill the minister.

The suicide bomber, dressed in a saree had arrived at the Minister’s office and appeared to have had a handicap. So obviously the femininity is used as an asset, if you have a limp or so all the better and you can score more points in the selection process for this elite core… Do women undertake these suicide bombings voluntarily?  From a terrorist point of view it is the ultimate sacrifice to blow yourself to smithereens for the cause. Is blowing yourself to smithereens  justified in the name of the cause, and is the goal of adding your name to the list that will be honoured annually  worth it?

Is it an extension on the self sacrificing woman’s role handed down the ages for females embedded in their role as “good” daughters and mothers? Who makes the rules and who gives rights to women? Do we need others to give us our rights – can’t we be in charge of our lives? 

For Fernando, the dilemma was the silence of the mainstream feminine activists to comment on the use of female suicide bombers as a form of violence against women.

Well, there is another Paul Simon classic “the sound of silence” — speaking without listening — . … yeah, this is us, the way we look to a song,  the way we look to a long distance constellation dying in the corner of the sky,  these are the days of miracle and wonder, don’t cry baby,  don’t cry. …

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