“The 21st century will be a women’s century,” says Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founding leader Abdullah Öcalan. The protests in Iran that started after the killing of a young Kurdish woman have continued for more than two months, not independently from the PKK leader’s philosophy, activists told Mezopotamya Agency.
Twenty-two-year-old Kurdish woman Jîna Mahsa Amini lost her life in morality police custody in the Iranian capital Tehran in mid-September, sparking protests that spread throughout the country but focusing in the Kurdistan province. For two months, people in the region Kurds call Rojhilat (East) took to the streets every day, chanting the famous slogan, Jin Jîyan Azadî (Woman Life Freedom). The three-word battle cry was borne out of the Kurdish political movement and the feminists therein, who call their feminism Jineology – women’s science.
Women’s rights defender Neslihan Şedal, who lives near Turkey’s border with Iran in the easternmost Van province, said women leading social movements and protests throughout the world was connected to Öcalan’s assertion that the 21st century belonged to women.
“Women resist attacks and massacres, and this resistance does not die down. The patriarchy asserts itself over femicide, and imposes on women something that cannot be recognised as life. Women are speaking out,” Şedal said.
The activist pointed to patterns of ancient traditions that emerged during protests. According to Şedal, Assyrian goddess of love, war and fertiliy, Ishtar, had once turned all waters to blood as vengeance after she was raped. Iranian women pouring red dye in pools and fountains during the protests evoked a similarly strong symbol, she said. “The women in Iran are drawing on their own history to weave their resistance.”
Şükran Şen, an activist from the Free Women’s Movement (TJA), said, “We see here that the revolution will be through women, that the anger of women who have constantly been blocked emerges strong. The slogan ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ encapsulates all women. Women feel connected with the revolution there through this slogan.”
Iranian women have been “locked up” for the last 43 years, after the Islamic revolution in the country, activist Deniz Öztekin said. “But women no longer accept the system, they have united against it. Women’s liberation means society’s liberation. Women can build a life if they fight for it.”