Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Mullins, Christopher


The Boko Haram terror group has utilized more women as suicide bombers than any other group in history. While prior research has examined why this phenomenon is occurring, and what makes Boko Haram a unique terror group, the present study examines how these attacks are being perpetrated, or enacted, by the female bombers. Utilizing the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is the largest terrorism incident database available, the study examined the incidents of female suicide bombings perpetrated by Boko Haram. The open-sourced citations provided by the GTD were compiled and turned into a complementary qualitative dataset. Overall, there were 151 incidents of female suicide bombings by Boko Haram between 2014 and 2017, of which 102 were included in the final sample for the study. Results of content analysis indicate that there are similarities between the perpetration of suicide bombings by females and other acts of crime, violence, and terrorist acts committed by other women, but there are also distinct differences. The cultural and social constructs of the region create a unique situation for Boko Haram compared to other terrorist groups that have deployed the female suicide bombing tactic; however, these features also make it difficult to flesh out the overarching issues of coercion, victimization, and kidnapping that the group heavily relies on. Though the ways in which the suicide attacks are enacted can be examined, at this point, it is still unclear whether the young women and girls perpetrating the attacks are acting out of their own volition, high levels of coercion, or a blend of the two.




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