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Ever since Bush's administration declared an all out 'war on terror' after the attacks on the US on September 11 2002, the world has never been the same as the US continues to flex its muscles in its efforts to bring to an end acts of terror. These efforts however have been marred with allegations of human rights abuse which have gradually worked to discredit the US as the 'world's police' due to its incompetence in handling civilians as well as declarations that have come back to haunt its credibility especially with regard to the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. This article seeks to look at what role humanitarian organizations have played in this war and takes a bias on the roles played by women.
Making of the War on Terror
Though The USA had previously demonstrated a unique responsibility to maintain unrivalled power and it used this power to spread freedom and democracy, the attacks on The World Trade Centre and The Pentagon challenged the former belief that the US could freely determine its own national security in a world that was quickly globalising. The shock of these attacks on the world's super power was overwhelmingly shocking and after some confusion, the US president came out declaring an all-out 'war' on what was called global terrorism. He characterised the conflict as a long struggle between 'good and evil' and claimed that it was the responsibility of the US to clear the world of this kind of evil. The Bush administration defined itself as 'good' and those who were opposed to the US as 'evil'. It went further to insist that the exceptional nature of the US had not changed and rhetoric to support this new 'war' begun to be heard. The president of the US promised to 'whip' terrorism and assured Americans that they would be victorious in the new war on terror (Patman: 2006).
In a further indication of the new strain of US exceptionalism, the document called the National security Strategy of the United State codified ideas of pre-emption and global primacy stating that 'America was now threatened more by falling states than by conquering ones'. With this, the US set to 'build and maintain her defences beyond challenge' (Patman: 2006).
US exceptionalism and the globalisation of security
The notion of 'US exceptionalism' has been used to refer to an informal framework that organizes American society and America's place in the world. Americans are therefore of the belief that they have a certain level of uniqueness and superiority over and above the rest of the world founded on liberal principles. They also bear the conviction that the S has a special destiny among other nations. It all begun with the founding of America when the country was seen as a new form of political community that was dedicated to the Enlightenment principles of the rule of law, private property, representative government, freedom of speech and religion, and commercial liberty (Nabers and Patman: 2008) . Whether this is the reality on the ground is of course a different matter altogether but this far, the US has succeeded in upholding its perceived exceptionalism and even to a certain extent convince the rest of the world that this is a coherent ideology. With time, this has begun to be seen as more of a traditional notion, with 'distinctive American Internationalism' slowly seeming to take its place especially after the Bush administration's manoeuvrings after the fateful 9/11 attacks.
President Bush's brand of 'distinctive American Internationalism' begun to show tension with the requirements of combating terrorism in a globalising era. This was evident in the persistence of the al-Qaeda threat, the deepening insurgency in Iraq, a possible US-Iran confrontation, the rise of militias in Somalia and the diminishing support for the US (Patman: 2006). The Bush administration made the mistake of not clearly defining who the enemy was, identifying only al-Qaeda but did not want to specifically target it hoping to prevent military action against states that had allegedly supported the terrorist organisation. This reluctance to target al-Qaeda explicitly inevitably compromised the US ability to win external support.
The reflection on US as a state as downgrading human rights and aligning itself with rights abusive regimes who claimed to support security goals signalled that it would back any government however repressive if it supported it in the war against terrorism. The depiction of the war on terrorism in terms of 'good Vs evil' helped privilege the US's national security interests over human rights and the rule of law (Ibid).
There were reports that people alleged to be al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects were held from late 2001 at a US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without trial, charge or access to lawyers but the Bush administration consistently argued that inmates held there are not 'prisoners of war' with rights under the Geneva Convention, but 'enemy combatants'. Habeas corpus applications were made by detainees at Guantanamo Bay when the US Supreme Court overturned the policy of detaining citizens and foreigners as enemy combatants indefinitely. A UN-appointed independent panel called for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay and was backed by the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. Some senior members of the Bush administration were also believed to have engaged in illegal tactics as a way of discrediting prominent opponents of the US invasion of Iraq (Patman: 2006).
The Bush administration continued to insist on its sovereign right to dispense 'American justice' in the global war on terror. Serious allegations have been made regarding US violations of human rights in Afghanistan, the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. The reports of abuse at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison stand out, where hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners were photographed being humiliated and maltreated. Investigations into the role of military intelligence personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison found that the scandal was a result of leadership rising to the highest levels of the US command in Iraq and not just the actions of a small circle of rogue military police as had been made to seem. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a court of last resort in the US, with intervention only when national authorities cannot or will not prosecute as the Bush administration adamantly opposed its establishment.
Though over 90 countries have ratified the Rome statute that created the ICC, the Bush administration believed that it would undermine US sovereignty. This is irrespective of the fact that the ICC should make it easier to bring was criminals to justice. In a paradox of ideas, the US is afraid of the limits the ICC could place on its military in especially the use of pre-emptive force against possible terrorist targets, in effect opposing the strengthening of international law enforcement, yet it continues lobby for international support for the war on terror (Hassani: 2008).
Although the US is more powerful than any other powers in global history, it is also more vulnerable. Try it has to integrate the idea of moral superiority in the war against terrorism but there has been disproportionate reliance on the US foreign policy military due to its unilateralism. In fact, the US invasion of Iraq seems to have boosted the international position of terrorist groups such as the al-Qaeda. This has in turn damaged its international authority and image. What Bush achieved therefore is a misunderstood aspect of the role of military power in a world that is highly interconnected.
Joseph Nye has argued that other than the exclusive use of 'hard power' the US can secure political influence by using 'soft power' through projecting values such as popular democracy, free market economics, the rule of law and the support of multilateral institutions.
The Iraq invasion sent a message to the rest of the world about Bush's exceptionalist state's unwillingness to open itself to new levels of international cooperation that would otherwise prove essential to effectively counter global terrorism. By tightening security on the transportation of goods and even people, security policies installed since the 9/11 attackers have reduced cultural and commercial contacts between the US and the outside world. This puts the US in a difficult position as it has been argued that terrorist networks and their supporting states would be most effectively defeated through shared intelligence, international police cooperation, the strengthening of international law enforcement and sustained global diplomacy. It would therefore be in the interest of the US therefore to support other nationals and multinational institutions if it is to live in a more secure world.
Human Rights abuses
Amnesty International asserts that the United States-led "war on terror" had produced the most sustained attack on international law in 50 years. Not surprisingly, the Bush administration dismissed such criticisms and defended its actions as part of an effort to defend the nation from terrorism and to "liberate" other nations.
The abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison was defended and trivialized by people prominent in the Bush administration who unfortunately tried to equate the ghastly pictures of tortured Iraqi detainees to pranks pulled by high school students. In some instances they even unashamedly accused the detainees (many of who had been innocent) of 'having American blood in their hands' and did not therefore deserve to be treated like human beings since they were terrorists and murderers. They generally felt that what they were doing to the detainees was far much better than what the terrorists had done in light of the beheadings conducted by alleged terrorist groups (Hooks and Mosher: 2005).
The fact that the blame for the actions at Abu Graib was placed on the junior military officials was all wrong considering that they were not the ones who organized and supervised a systematically cruel system. Lynndie England, then only about 20 years old was one of the soldiers from the military police that were charged of the torture of detainees at the said Prison in Iraq. In interviews given to newspaper journalists, Lynndie said that she was following orders when she posed for pictures that were taken of her posing next to piles of naked Iraqi detainees with thumbs up sign among others equally grotesque photos (Associated press: 2004) . At another instance she had a photo taken while holding a leash to a crawling Iraqi detainee. While these photos brought about a huge outrage the world over about the treatment of Iraqi detainees in the hands of the US military, little has been said about the story behind the pictures taken. Lynndie in her interviews with the media talks about how her boyfriend, Charles Graner who was also her supervisor and the father of her baby talked her into posing for the pictures and often cheered her on by claiming that she was doing it for her government. Lynndie was accused of assaulting Iraqi detainees on multiple occasions, conspiring with another soldier to mistreat the prisoners, commiting an indecent act and commiting acts that were prejudicial to good order and discipline and were of nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces through her mistreatment of Iraqi detainees.
Many researchers have brought to our attention the nature of training that the US military personnel must undergo that includes a process of dehumanization of the enemy such that they are made to view their perceived enemy as less of a human being, allowing them to kill them or treat them in a way that they would not treat a human being. In fact, one military police indicated that he had known nothing of the Geneva Convention before conducting his own internet research on it. The Abu Graib scandal is however nothing new to the practice of US military against prisoners even on its own soils, but perhaps the only exceptional aspect of this abuse is that it was photographed and magnified by being aired throughout the world. Some reports indicate that it was so normal for torture to take place at the Abu Ghraib prison that the soldiers had one the photos of a pile of naked Iraqi detainees piled up together was used as a screen saver on one of their computers (Hooks and Mosher: 2005). Other reports say that Cpt. Graner was happy enough to send some of the pictures of the detainees he had taken while they tortured them home depicting that he felt proud and did not feel that what they were doing was wrong.
Attempts by journalists to understand the abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world using social scientific research have provided a clear lesson that the abuse of prisoners does not arise the lowest ranking guards and interrogators, but rather from the high ranking officials who secure the compliance of the guards and interrogators to implement a policy of detention and interrogation that was systematically cruel.
Other areas where Iraqi detainees suffered abuse even before the Abu Ghraib abuses were revealed was a US detention centre outside Baghdad which was called Camp Cropper, Mistreatment of the 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh in late 2001 and also some suspected homicides of prisoners held by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2002; and in several documented deaths of prisoners in the two countries the army was less concerned about conducting autopsies claiming that it could not determine the cause of death (Pace: 2007).
The media and Humanitarian Organizations in the War on Terror
When journalists published, Crimes of war. What the Public should know, it was applauded for its usefulness as a guide that would help journalists understand what war crimes were and be able to tell them apart from any other consequences of war. Following this publication, journalism was seen as having ability to impact far beyond immediate calculation if it engaged in accurate, timely and thoughtful coverage of war crimes. That kind of reporting brought about the establishment of the UN and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Kutabb: 2007, 879). In this respect therefore, journalism can be seen as a way of ensuring that human rights are enforced during the course of war, and such, it is plausible to view media organizations in the same lens as humanitarian organizations.
Journalism however remains an extremely dangerous profession irrespective of protection offered to journalists under the international humanitarian law. Iraq witnessed the killings and injuries of more journalists than has ever happened in another part of the world. In fact, while it is dangerous for foreign journalists to work in Iraq, the chances that an Iraqi journalist will be killed or injured while working in Iraq is a lot higher and international organizations out to look out for the plight of journalists have identified it as the most deadly region for professionals of the fourth estate (Ibid). Saddam's government had created an unfavourable environment for journalists to work freely before the US invaded Iraq as a way of protecting himself from exposure through the work of journalistic reporting.
As if this was not enough, the US army refused to take any further responsibility of freelance journalists in Iraq that were not embedded with its armies or that of its allies in 2003. It became evident that Americans had intended to 'scare' non embedded press and deter them from continuing to report when the US army did nothing to protect the Palestine Hotel from which they were based to be shelled despite the fact that they Us central command based near Qatar often benefited from the collective live broadcasts of the non-embedded Arab and foreign crews (Kuttab: 2007).
It was even brought to the world's attention that the US military personnel had engaged in paying local media houses to publish only those articles that would make the military look good as the US officials vowed to promote democtratic principles, political transparency and freedom of speech in Iraq (Ibid).
When the US first invaded Iraq, it claimed to do so in order to liberate Iraqis from dictatorship under the rule of Saddam Hussein but in the real sense, Iraqis were never introduced as human beings to the world, to an extent that even tallying of Iraq deaths was never on the radar screen of the US or Western media. Dehumanization became ever more evident by the absence of an actual counting of Iraqi casualties. Other war like activities monitored by the US and international press such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict gave a regular tabulation of how many Israelis and Palestinians had been killed or injured, alongside each story. This kind of practice was however clearly left out at the end of Iraq stories (Pace: 2007).
Terrorists have used the media as a springboard onto the world stage. Though unintended, the western media has found itself working together with terrorists (Kupperman, et al: 1992). Terrorists and the Government have operated under the watch of the whole world through the media because a lack of this would make the outcome of terrorist incidences insignificant. Regular media coverage has enabled terrorists to torment their hostages and the population at large by bringing their actions into their living rooms and car stereos. Through the media, terrorist operations have been perceived as either successful or not, exposed governments' incompetence in dealing with the terrorists and also created awareness as to the extent at which the terrorists are likely to go to declare their power.
Fierce competition among the media houses has prevented the effective use of established internal codes of ethics and self restraint. The government on the other hand has failed in developing better ways of consulting and disseminating information in order to create better partnerships with the media networks for more responsible reporting.
As mentioned earlier, the media in Iraq operated under very close scrutiny and at considerable risk and civil society hardly existed even before the US invasion and even those that existed were barely functioning, and all this made it impossible to campaign for the rights of the Iraqis (Pace: 2008).
The UN therefore took it upon its mandate to get involved in Iraq right from the onset of the invasion and produced two reports presented to the Security Council in 2003 that assessed in detail the situation of human rights in the country. A mandate was eventually set up to promote the protection of human rights, judicial and legal reform as a way of strengthening the rule of law in Iraq. The UN worked together with existing Iraq organizations in mainly Baghdad and Amman and re-established links with other Iraqi non-governmental groups (Ibid).
In its agenda, the office of Human Rights was set to tackle the problems it had inherited form the pre-invasion period as well as those that were arising as a result of the invasion. The situation in Iraq from a human rights stand point presented unique challenges but the office was keen to stay on top of things and kept up to date on daily human rights conditions around Iraq and interactions with networks of Iraqi groups and organizations in this area (Hassani: 2007).
It became recognized that human right issues were crucial is national reconciliation was to be achieved and therefore the office needed to be up to speed on the reality of human rights in the country. It therefore became necessary to form initiatives that were supported by Iraqi authorities alongside the individual groups and civil society groups and officials. A National Centre for missing persons and a National Human Rights Institution were formed and further reinforced by activities to strengthen the civil police, strengthen the monitoring of prisons by the Ministry of Human Rights and supporting Human Rights groups.
Agencies and programmes of the UN system compiled a human rights programme in Iraq and grouped into education, health and administration of justice among others. Efforts in the political process and reconstruction by the Human Rights office interacted with other international partners and also the emerging Iraq authorities (Pace: 2008).
The office succeeded in establishing contact with Iraqi civil society though it was much in its infancy stages except for those in the Kurdish region and by the end of 2005 had formed a valuable network of such organization and contact with individuals and groups was reasonably sound. Contact with Iraqi and non-Iraqi authorities was also established through regular meetings and it also worked towards the inclusion of human rights issues at the decision making levels of government and other authorities (Ibid).
Kuttab reports that military intervention made worse the human rights situation as the US engaged in searches for presumed terrorists. Certain measures used such as disconnected water and power supplies while targeting families in the search of individuals and the firepower used, the use of aerial attacks gave rise to serious allegations of violations of the law or armed conflict, including that relating to the protection of civilians and the disproportionate use of force.
Human rights issues also resulted from military interventions due to the large number of men and sometimes women that were taken into custody, in an effort to capture terrorists among them. Thousands of detainees were in effect produced mostly being held under Multi National Force (MNF), another authority set up under the human rights office to monitor the local prisons. In its report for the period 1 April to 30 June 2007, the Human Rights Office gave the number of Iraqis in detention as of the end of June 2007 as 44,235, made up of detainees and sentenced prisoners (Kuttab: 2007).
Despite the presence of a human rights office in Iraq therefore, the human rights situation remained serious with arbitrary arrests and detentions, and summary executions occurring regularly. Evidence of torture also emerged from interviews and observation of bodies that bore signs of arbitrary executions.
Under international humanitarian law, civilians in a situation of war are supposed to be well protected especially with regard to the right to life and protection from arbitrary detention and torture. Disparities in the interpretation of the applicability of human rights law and international humanitarian law by the US makes it even more challenging for the human rights office in Iraq to perform its mandate.
The human rights situation in Iraq was a result of complex factors such as; the dysfunctional state structures that were otherwise supposed to protect civilians and a vacuum in protection that had of individuals that had arisen as a result of dissolution of the police force (Pace: 2007). The responsibility of protecting civilians was therefore left to the US and UK as a result of their underestimation of the need to reconstruct those two essential arms of the state. Criminal acts perpetrated as acts of terror also expanded exponentially due to the absence of functioning institutions of the administration of justice system.
Iraq became the battle ground for groups such as Al-Qaeda after the invasion as they sought to fight the US, with the military's quest for terrorists compounding the threat by creating a large number of detainees who were held in their custody for prolonged periods. The US therefore created its own enemies as a majority of those it detained were actually innocent and were sure to become more prone to becoming terrorists upon their release as they sought to revenge for what had been done against them.
The role of the UN and that of the US were not clearly defined and it became difficult to tell the two apart as even communication levels persisted in two levels with the Iraqi authorities. Coordination problems between the two created problems that did not help in the restoration and reconstruction effort, complicated further by the military dimension where the US acted on behalf of the Iraqi authorities.
The War on Terror or 'Long war' begun its war in Afghanistan under the guise of hunting down Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida who were believed to be harbouring in some safe havens there under protection of the Taliban regime. Afghanistan was and still is one of the poorest countries in the world and its recent history included civil war and war with a major military and imperial power, the Soviet Union. The Taliban had come to power a few years earlier and become popular with some of the Afghans who praised it for providing them with some relief from war to civil turmoil (German: 2008).
Violence against women had been on the rise during the pre-invasion period and continued to rise after the invasion. Women were massively raped leading to 'honour killings' which meant that their families opted for the raped women to be killed after they had been raped in order not to bring shame to their families and instead die 'in honour'. Security for women was also unbearable as other social activities such as child marriages, trafficking; prostitution and kidnap were widely reported. Approximately 60 to 80 per cent of all marriages in Afghanistan are forced and 57 per cent of girls married off before the age of 16 (Yaqoob: 2008).
Women were most affected when access to water, healthcare, educations and jobs became problematic. Sometimes access to water and electricity was deliberately cut off by the US military as they used these as strategies to hunt down families suspected to be harbouring terrorists. Only about 19 per cent of schools are designated as girls schools in the country and military expenditure exceeds that of development and reconstruction by 900 per cent (Ibid).
Iraq which was a brutal dictatorship before the invasion but women played a more public role as compared to Afghanistan. The country had the highest representation of women in political life in the middle East and women attained high levels of education(Ali and Pratt : 2008). Women however became the least people to benefit from the regime change that came after the US invasion that sought to liberate Iraqis and obtain weapons of mass destruction they believed the country had. As in Afghanistan, only misery awaited women after their 'liberation' in 2003.
Massive rapes of women and girls as young as 14 were reported by the Human Rights after the war in July 2003. It was difficult to obtain the actual number of those raped as this was a highly stigmatised ordeal. Landmines affected a lot of people in the community, many of who were women and children left behind after their husbands went off to war and either died there or did not return for some reason or the other (German: 2008). The depleted social welfare after the war and increased unemployment rates meant that women were forced to engage in sex work and the lack of law and order brought about increased human trafficking and exploitation of children for sex. Health outcomes were among the poorest in the region with illegal abortions on the rise and miscarriage as well as children born with deformities reported as possibly a result of mothers' exposure to radiations of weapons using depleted Uranium following the first Gulf war in 1991 (Ibid).
In the rest of the world, Islam women begun to face humiliation after the 9/11 attacks and in many places got criticised for merely their mode of dress. The hijab became a symbol of terror to many as women continued to be killed in Iraq as a result of the invasion. According to Lindsay German, "four Iraqi women were killed on the International women's day in 2001 for merely taking part in the celebrations in what was branded an importation of western culture and erosion of Muslim values". The fight against Terrorism, the Taliban and liberation of Muslim women became intertwined as Laura Bush declared that 'the fight against terrorism was also a fight against for the rights of women'.
Muslim communities begun to feel demonized in the rest of the world pushing them into an instinctive reaction by adopting defence stances and try to emphasize only the positive aspects of their religion and culture irrespective of the many problems they faced internally as Muslim women without having to fight the outside world. Those who preferred to wear the Hijab and were visibly Muslim felt exteremely exposed and fearful as a result of the rise in anti-Muslim hostility and Islamophobia around them. Some women reported being abused and attacked with one saying that she was spat on while walking with her three year old son in the streets of Burmingham city (German: 2008). "Bystanders who witnessed this kind of thing were indifferent and opted not to do anything against this kind of treatment", reports German. This particular woman later decided to join a movement for Muslim women seeking to advocate for the rights of Muslim women.
A British MP, Jack Straw's comments on the Islamic dress as posing barriers to integration were uploaded by right wing press members, government ministers and some feminist journalists who also held the view that the mode of dress for the Muslim was a barrier o their integration. Women who wore the veil therefore found themselves in a dilemma over whether to continue to wear it or not especially if they valued education or event their jobs as it became intolerable to dress in an Islamic mode in some areas.
Across the divide, female American soldiers appeared in photos taken in Abu Graib prison posing with their thumbs up over bloodied and tortured dead bodies giving an image that women were now actively involved as instigators of violence in the war on terror. A murky conjecture was illuminated between race, gender and imperial power upon closer examination of what was happening in the US detention centres (Ibid). After 9/11 Condoleezza Rice, became one of the architects of the war on terror in which many civilians have died as the US sought to curb terrorism and tame rogue states. Cases of American soldiers sexually torturing Iraqi men were no longer strange to many that followed the happenings at the time.
This is not to say however that female US military officials have only been perpetrators as they have at the same time suffered as victims. Some female military officials on the US side have reported not being able to visit the toilets at night for fear of being harassed or raped by the male colleagues. The threat of victimization for this group is therefore more from their own colleagues than from the 'enemy'.
Another instance where women appear as perpetrators of the war on terror is the increase of female suicide bombers. Women are fast becoming a weapon of choice and terrorists are opting to use them because of their ease in camouflaging as innocent passersby and the fact that they cost less and it does not require sophisticated technology to work with them. Suicide bombers have been known to operate on the element of surprise and also the ease of accessibility to targeted areas and populations which is a lot easier to achieve when women are involved as compared to men (Zedalis: 2004).
Although Iraqi women have remained anonymous, there have been cases of violations against them in the form of torture as detainees not to mention as civilians (German: 2008). Sometimes their anonymity is a matter of choice for fear of stigmatization by their societies especially when rape or sexual harassment has taken place, other times it is because of the obscurity of the US military in trying to cover up for its transgressions. Unlike the American women who have openly stood up to condemn their own military for the actions of violations against them it is not equally possible to place faces and names to the few reported cases of violence against Iraqi women, just as it is difficult to unravel the identities of the female suicide bombers.
Women in Iraqi have tried to raise their voices against their predicaments but they are largely require the support of western feminists in order to force the governments on both sides of the war to stop committing crimes against them. Though spaces opened up for female activists during the post invasion period, they have since been curtailed if not largely eradicated (Ali and Pratt: 2008). The reason for this has been the increased violence rooted in military intervention, continuous misjudgement and reckless incompetence by the occupation and competition for authority in the new Iraq as well continued resistance to the US occupation.
Women's roles in this war have been very widespread. This cannot be taken to mean in any way that women have been more actively involved in the war on terror than men have, however this article sought to look at the unique ways that this war has got women 'sucked in'. For purposes of space, it was not possible to go into deeper details of what has been done by whom hence the generalisation of women's roles. In Summary however, it is important to note that their involvement has taken the form of both victim and perpetrator. These roles take an offensive and defensive dimension as seen in the US and the receiving end which has mainly been the Muslim world in particular Iraq and Afghanistan. On both ends, there have been victims and perpetrators as seen in the US female military and other top officials who have been perpetrators perpetrators in the way of instigating violence on innocent civilians either directly or indirectly and also those female military officials that have suffered some forms of abuse to their rights by their own colleagues. Of course there is also the question of women who have suffered as a result of terrorist attacks, both inside the Muslim countries and in the target countries all over the world. The other dimension from Iraq (or the areas in which terrorist networks operate from) also bears its own kind of perpetrators and victims, with female suicide bombers standing out prominently as the main female instigators of violence from that end. Female as victims from the Muslim side have also been mentioned in the way of women detained by the US military, as well as civilian women who have been hurt due to this war.
Researching in this topic bears huge challenges in the way of obtaining certain information. In particular, women as perpetrators on both divides are somewhat well shielded from the US side and it's therefore difficult to get much information on who they might be and in what ways they have instigated violence on their sufferers. We have heard of top officials in the US who have helped designed a system that uses crude methods of torture on detainees as a way of obtaining information on them but such information is only limited. On the side of the terrorists, female suicide bombers have been on the rise but apart from dying with their stories, it is also extremely difficult to find out much about them for obvious reasons of protection.
Analysing the role of humanitarian organisations with a focus on women is therefore somewhat hazy as literature that touches specifically on women's abuse of human rights and what has been done about this phenomena is extremely limited. It is not that much of a challenge however to obtain information on the role of humanitarian organizations on women who have become victims in this war. Consequently, this paper has generalised views on the role of humanitarian organizations in the war on terror without confining findings to only the issue of women's involvement.