Nothing has been able to exemplify to the outside world the grubby misogynistic state of affairs in Turkey as the recent visit by the 2 EU Presidents, Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) and Charles Michel, (President of the European Council) on 6th April, 2021.
An extraordinary meeting that has now been dubbed ‘sofagate’ and widely reported around globe after the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, noted as the fourth most powerful woman in the world in the Forbes 2020 list of ‘Most Powerful Women in the World’, was left standing aghast and humiliated, frantically waving her hand and expressing her extreme frustration and disbelief at not having been given an equal seat for the meeting in Erdoğan’s presidential palace, as was demanded by international diplomatic protocol.
Video footage from the meeting sees Ursula von Der Leyen standing in front of the seated President Erdoğan and Michel waving her arm exclaiming ‘Ehmm’ in utter disbelief that she had been left without a gold leafed seat on equal footing with the two men, with whom she has absolutely equal diplomatic status, before the video is abruptly cut.
Later she is seen sitting, a lonely figure, on a large oversized cotton sofa, clearly enraged and looking around the room.
The clearly intended humiliation of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, one of the most powerful women in the world, does not come as a surprise to the women of Turkey and Kurdistan who have been the unheard victims of Erdoğan’s misogynistic policies for years.
Sexist policies that have culminated in Erdoğan, by his own personal decision, withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty that is designed specifically to protect women and girls from violence and femicide.
Policies that have seen Kurdish women community activists deliberately targeted for extrajudicial assassination by drone strikes in North East Syria and policies that have seen Erdoğan work with radical Islamist misogynistic gangs who have been responsible for systematic mass rape and kidnappings of Kurdish women in the Turkish occupied city of Afrin in Syria for the last three years.
Policies that have seen numerous cases of men and Turkish soldiers being given free rein to rape and kill women in Turkey without fear of prosecution. Kurdish women, especially, are the victims of increased incidents of femicide both in civilian life and in Turkey’s genocidal war against the Kurds. One woman is killed every day in Turkey because of her gender.
Erdoğan’s misogynistic racist war that has been responded to by Kurdish women’s organisations with an international campaign to bring Erdoğan to account in a court of law for his ‘crimes against women’.
The Kurdish Women’s Movement of Europe (TJK-E) recently launched the campaign 100 Reasons to Prosecute Erdoğan for his Feminicidal Policies that has raised the support of many international Women’s organisations and individual women supporters around the world. The campaign has highlighted a selected 100 cases of femicide, the killing of women for their gender, and is calling for Erdoğan to be prosecuted.
As the campaign says on its website: “Violence against women has risen by more than one thousand percent in Turkey. Rape is increasingly normalised. Women are systematically excluded from political spheres, including imprisonment. All this in addition to the criminalisation of academic, artistic and professional work”.
And following yesterday’s reports that the Italian Prime Minister has – after the ‘sofa gate’ incident – finally called the Turkish President a ‘dictator’. This is something that Kurdish and Turkish women have known for a long time.
Again, from the 100 Reasons to Prosecute Erdoğan for his Feminicidal Policies website: “These definitions, according to international legal norms, give us enough reason to suggest that Erdoğan is a dictator and that he should be prosecuted for his crimes. The dictator, who operates as the president of Turkey, has a male-dominated, fascist and racist mentality that targets Kurdish women in a conscious, planned and specific way. In 18 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, Erdoğan has become the main perpetrator behind the system of conscious massacre, killing and rape on women”.
It is beyond comprehension that Erdoğan was not aware of the diplomatic protocol that was demanded of the visit of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, one of the most powerful women in the world to his palace and it was therefore, beyond doubt, a pre-planned humiliation that has backfired and has only served to highlight the misogynistic mentality of the Turkish dictator. It will hopefully bring more attention to the plight of Kurdish and Turkish women in Turkey and Kurdistan and the nature of their resistance.
And if Erdoğan thinks he can so casually humiliate one of the most powerful women in the world so openly, imagine the crimes he is responsible for against Kurdish women. Please find out and support the campaign ‘100 Reasons to Prosecute Erdoğan for his Feminicidal Policies’.