Syrian women, who have been victims of the civil war, talked to Mesopotamia Agency regarding the violations of human rights they have been subjected to and their lack of trust of the governmental bodies in Turkey.Women, who have suffered from poverty, discrimination and subjected to sexual violence stated that they do not apply to governmental bodies regarding the violations of human rights they have suffered as they have no trust in Turkish governmental organisations and official state authorities to sympathise with them and defend their rights.
People have become refugees due to internal disputes, war and financial crises in their country as the states around the world remain silent regarding the incidents taking place before the eyes of the world. According to International Migration Organisation’s data for 2020, 3,174 ‘irregular migrants’ lost their lives in the last year. In addition, the organisation believes that the number is higher due to numerous unrecorded boat sinkings that occured during the year.
As some refugees try to reach European countries for better lives, the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey increased to 3,639,572 as of 16 December 2020.
23,400 refugees in Diyarbakır (Amed)
2,579,941 of this Syrian refugee population consists of women and children. According to the data of the Interior Ministry Immigration Authority, dated 23 December 2020, 23,400 Syrian refugees live in the eastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) in Turkey. Most of them live in Bağlar and Sur districts in Diyarbakır and most of them are subjected to discrimination, especially refugee women.
Most of the women do not apply to governmental bodies for the assaults they have been subjected to, such as discrimination, harrasment, rape and violence.
Women in the grip of violence
According to Diyarbakır Bar Association’s data for so far in 2021, 26 of 46 Syrian refugees ,who applied the bar’s legal assistance office due to various reasons, were Syrian women. The grounds for their applications for legal support are listed as violence, harrasment, raids, rape, detention and divorce. The same reasons were stated for 2020.
Life in a foreign country
Refugee women living in Diyarbakır are hesitant to apply to the official authorities or to any governmental bodies in Turkey, on the grounds that they they do not believe that these organisations will protect them, according the Mesopotamia Agency’s report.
47 year-old M.A., who left her home after the war in Syria and settled in Diyarbakır, is one of those women who has faced the above problems. She migrated from Damascus to Lebanon and then to Yenişehir district of Diyarbakır with her three children and husband. They have lived in Diyarbakır for 7 years.
Her husband can not work because of hemiplegy and M.A. has taken the responsibility of earning a living for her family. She works as baby-sitter and cleaner, even though she has several health complaints.
MA. talked about the discrimination that her children faced and stated that her daughter had depression due to the discrimination she faces. She also said that she was falsely blamed for theft in a house that she went to work as a cleaner. MA. also stated she was subjected to sexist verbal assaults from local men.
Another Syrian woman E.H. migrated from Qamışlo to Diyarbakır four years ago and she lives in a house, where three families live together. EH said the discrimination they face has not changed for four years and that they have been mostly staying at home to avoid harrassment and discrimination. Noting that they are often faced with the same question over and over again, “Where are you from?”, EH noted, they hide their nationality sometimes, because when they expose their Syrian nationality, they are generally mistreated.
Lack of social space
Fatma Gündoğdu, Lotus Young Field Association (LOGAD) Women Studies Programme executive, commented on their meetings with refugees during their field research. Gündoğdu said that the problems of Syrian refugee women include language problemS, inability to apply to govermental agencies and sexist discourse.
Gündoğdu noted that they held workshops for social gender, human rights, sexual health and relations between parents and children. She also drew attention to the sexist attitudes towards Syrian women in Diyarbakır, saying that Syrian refugees were marginalised by words ‘Syrian’ and ‘Syrian woman’, adding that the discriminatory and sexist attitude in society encouraged men to discriminate against Syrian women.
Gündoğdu also underlined the language problem, stating that when a refugee women tried to apply to a police station she can not express herself due to her language problems. “Refugee women believe that no one could help them and they are also afraid of deportation,” Gündoğdu said. “Syrian women do not feel they are a part of the society and they want to leave Turkey.”