Turkey’s eastern province of Dersim has been increasingly witnessing crimes against women in the past few years. As many women in the Kurdish-Alevite majority city suffer from male violence, especially rape and other forms of sexual harassment, murders and forced kidnapping, perpetrators have not been brought to justice.
Gülistan Doku is the most prominent example of crimes that have been committed against women in Dersim, as the university student and Kurdish woman has been missing for more than a year. Yet, no suspects who were addressed by the witnesses as potential perpetrators of Doku’s disappearance and even her killing have been tried or brought to justice as yet.
The Dersim Governorate, which continuously bans democratic women’s demonstrations throughout the city, has also been much criticised for silencing the women who try to give voice against crimes targeting women.
Helin Yağmur Uci, a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP’s) party assembly and of the Justice Commission for Gülistan Doku, has stated that women in Dersim have been subjected to a “special war policy”.
“They try to intimidate women in Dersim. The women who want to organise demonstrations against rape, sexual harrassment and forced kidnappings in the city face penalties even as the perpetrators of these crimes walk free due to the impunity that prevails”, she said, adding: “There is a serious war policy targeting the women, especially the Kurdish and Alevite women in the city. As part of these policies, women are subjected to sexual assault, rape, massacres and assimilation policies.
“The patriarchal system tries to maintain its dominance, but women continue to object to that, raise their voices and their organised struggle. [In protests against sexual harassment], we have faced male-state violence. We have faced police violence and its penal policies”.
Uci also drew attention to the penalties given to protesting women and legal attempts to intimidate women who use their democratic rights of protest against the increasing levels of violence against women in Dersim. “We have been given penalties based on Gülistan Doku protests and on various women’s events and demonstrations. Investigations are opened against us due to our legitimate demands and monetary penalties are applied to us using the excuse of the pandemic and lockdown measures”, she said.
She stressed that women in Dersim will continue with their struggle against all kinds of violence targeting the women, despite all the state oppression and male violence they are faced with. “We will continue to spread our organised struggle, women’s solidarity and united women’s freedom struggle. We will continue to be on the streets protesting against all kinds of sexual, physical, psychological and economic violence”.