- Nisreen Mansour al Forgani, centre, with fellow Gaddafi female militia members. She is now under armed rebel guard in a Tripoli hospital. Picture: AFP
Gender roles are nowhere more prominent than in war, as we see male political and military leaders taking the most visible roles in armed conflicts, promoting the tendency to see the capacity to inflict violence as inherently male. During the six months of Libya’s revolt, amid stories of women working in hospitals and sending food to the fighters, the stories of women who have ventured into the frontlines, like Fawzia Al Ferjani, have been few and far between. Tellingly, the fact that women were again out on the streets in Tripoli, including coming out in force for a celebration in the renamed Martyrs Square, were reported as signs of normality.
Since the opposition entered Tripoli, however, there have been a number of interviews with women formerly employed as guards and fighters by the Gaddafi regime, reports previously limited to the evidence of women’s IDs at the frontlines and rumours of female snipers and mercenaries.