“As a matter of fact, the Kurdish issue’s deadlock specifically targets Kurdish women. The prohibitions against Kurdish identity, enforced by assimilation policies, aim to hold back Kurdish women in all areas of life”, writes Pervin Buldan, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for Yeni Yaşam. Her column, translated by MedyaNews, can be read in full below.
The gender inequality mainly protected by the monolithic male power and gender-based violence are the most worrying points. During the rule of the AKP (Justice and Development Party), more than 10 thousand women were murdered, according to several reports. This means that a woman is murdered every day in Turkey.
Besides, the financial crisis, which deepened poverty, had an especially powerful impact on women. Research shows that the economic and financial crisis put a disproportionate burden on women, ranging from job losses, high unemployment rates and the fact that women are more likely to be exposed to exploitation in precarious conditions.
During the pandemic women again face a number of disadvantages. As a result of the government not applying social policies, women have suffered the most.
The Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (AKP-MHP) alliance, which formes the Turkish government, ignores the current situation of women. The government does not take social precautions to ensure social equality in the society.
Although women have rights “on paper”, ensured by the Turkish constitution and international conventions, these rights are not recognised and put into practice in Turkey. For instance, the Istanbul Convention, which has been signed by the current government, guarantees the rights of women and undertakes to protect women against all kinds of oppression and violence. However, nine years have passed since the contract, and thousands of women continue to suffer violence in Turkey. Refugee women in particular are subjected to violence and exploitation. The persecution increased exponentially because the Istanbul Convention was not implemented in national laws nor in international conventions.
The government also insists on not implementing the decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As a result, thousands of Kurdish women are in prison. As a matter of fact, the Kurdish issue’s deadlock specifically targets Kurdish women. The prohibitions against Kurdish identity, enforced by assimilation policies, aim to hold back Kurdish women in all areas of life. The Kurdish language is banned, for example, leading to various difficulties in social and economic life.
Kurdish women are subjected to all kinds of hostile practices due to being Kurdish as well as being women. In Kurdish provinces, as a part of the war policy, crimes against Kurdish women are committed by law enforcement officers systematically and regularly. The death of İpek Er, Gülistan Doku’s missing and the harassment by law enforcement in Şırnak (Şırnex), Cizre (Cizire) and Pertek are just a few of the crimes against Kurdish women and also children. The suspects are protected by the judiciary and the ministry and are rewarded with an active impunity policy. Kurdish women are exposed to all kinds of cruelty. For a quarter-century the Saturday Mothers, the rebellion faction of the Mothers of Peace, cried for the loss of their of loved ones and sought to find their missing children.
A mother who had to save her daughter’s deceased body in the refrigerator in Cizre (a district in Turkey’s eastern province of Şırak/Şirnex), the unfinished mournings of mother Taybet, the lament of a mother for the bones of her children found burned in basements, the insults of women whose bodies were exposed in the streets, the persecution of women in Roboski… Such pain and loss, which I cannot fully explain with words, have been the experience of Kurdish women under the current political arrangement.
Kurdish women are faced with racist violence. Fatma Altınmakas, a seasonal agricultural Kurdish worker in Adapazarı, was subjected to a racist attack and killed because she did not speak Turkish.
Again, in northern Syria, the abduction, rape, disappearance, and massacre policies which are applied specifically to women have darkened the lives. That is the effect of the Kurdish problem’s deadlock on Kurdish women. Thousands of women from all over this country have suffered for decades, just because the dominant male power does not want a solution or peace. People lost their relatives, children, their loved ones because of war. The hope and joy of countless young people has gone.
War budget takes women’s share
While the government is allocating huge portions from the state budget to military policies, it has seized the share of the budget for women’s rights. Women were the targets of all kinds of violence and attacks by the dominant male power, but they could not seek or access justice precisely because of the lawlessness imposed on Kurds. Women were deprived of social policies that guarantee women’s rights. Women were seen as enemies.
Thousands of women were subjected to torture and naked searches in detention and in prisons. Wherever the activists of the women’s struggle came together and claimed their rights, they were the targets of relentless attacks. Tens of women have been sued for defending the Istanbul Convention, just because they danced. Erdoğan, who said, “What is necessary will be done whether it is a woman or a child”, says today, “We will not look at the tears of any young person”, referring to the youth who participated in in the Boğaziçi University protests. He threatens families through their children.
In the state of emergency (OHAL), thousands of women were sacked from their jobs. Appointed trustees to the HDP municipalities governed by a co-chair and based on equal representation were usurped. All our women’s institutions that advocate, develop and strengthen women’s identity have been closed. Thousands of women politicians who have been fighting for women’s rights, including Leyla Güven and Ayşe Gökkan, have been illegally arrested as political hostages.
We as women know it very well that we have hope and salvation. It is the women’s struggle that will ensure liberation. Women are resisting with their words, politics and actions. All over the world, millions of women with different languages, religions and backgrounds are waging the same struggle. The women’s struggle demands equality, justice and democracy!
We meet together in a joint struggle from all over this country regardless of language, religion and identity. We are fighting against fascism and its policy of deadlock. The democratic solution of the Kurdish problem will not only bring peace and justice, but will also solve and end the male order which creates endless deadlock! Women and society as a whole will give voice to the basic demands of the ongoing anti-isolation hunger strikes in prisons, and will pave the way for a peaceful solution.