Kurdish Women’s Movement and Social Policies

Fatma Nevin Vargün
Translated by Özge

The violence against women is continuing in Kurdish region. Even in harsher ways. In the previous days we watched together what a young woman in Ağrı experienced. The men in the family were persistent first to throw her from the window and then to give her quietus by stabbing in ambulance on her way to the hospital. In this article I want to talk about the thought-provoking, rather than the frightening, side of this kind of violent incidents that can be often came across in the media.

Similar to every part of the world, in the East and Southeast of the country the violence against women is not new but the perpetrators has begun to use crueler, harsher methods. As it is a respected Kurdish tradition, they are cutting the noses of women. Not afraid, ashamed from anyone. The governmental mechanisms have never been a deterrent factor for Kurds throughout the history. One the other hand, a different power had an effect and even could be intimidating on the behavior patterns of Kurdish men, in particular for the issue of the violence against women.

This power is to be Kurdish women’s movement. I think that women’s movement which could be regarded as the most important gain of 30 years of fight has remained passive on solving of these problems for a long while. Between 1995 and 2004, progress had been made thanks to the endeavor of many women and the sensitivity of movement against the sex problem. During the period that HADEP-DEHAP were active, the women achieved to have active roles inside the party. To the Statues of political parties which are recognized as the Constitution of the parties, important articles including the violence against women were added and applied.

Still they are on a political line which can achieve to apply more quotas for women. Moreover, the establishment of non-governmental organizations has increased after gaining the power in provinces and districts. The women spruced up with feminist perspectives in politics worked actively in all these fields. All the efforts to break the masculine structure of Kurdish movement affected the evolution of social politics in the region. Even if the feudal values were not completely destroyed, the solutions for various violence patterns built over the women by relying on customs and traditions were found. The facilities of local administrations were mobilized for women.

It is required to see and recompense every positive activity which was made and is continuing to be made. But “early power disease” which Kurdish movement often talks about could not be cured. Politics is unsteady. Changing world conditions, the perspective of new generation on life and politics and the political lines of states change continuously. Kurdish problem is positioned to experience all these changes fastest. The issue is complicated. The problem concerns many states on a significant geography. As the most important inside those, the United States has sat in the middle of Kurdish problem by bringing Öcalan to Turkey and invading Iraq.

The sharpest change in Kurdish movement began in this process with the imprisonment of Öcalan. The balance has changed. The establishment of Kurdish state in Iraq has turned into an emotional progress for Kurds who want to set up their own nation state for years. The perception of “every newcomer oppressed, even if it is America, we have missed these days so much” became the general perception of Kurds including most of intellectuals. The establishment of DTP concurred in this process. The new concept opened the way for purification of socialists and women in Kurdish politics. In particular the space for women was quite comprehensive.

It is the general rule that the ones who make purifications in politics strongly avoid to call it as “purification”. Socialists, feminists who support and stand by Kurdish movement either did not notice these purifications or did not want to interfere into internal affairs. The place of those who disappeared was quickly filled by new comers. However, the case which was not taken into account was being the women awareness and empowerment a hard and long-term matter. There was neither time nor backdrop for the new comers to gain feminist perspectives. In addition to that, many women were arrested. The detentions of these women some of whom are included in the movement have been still continuing. Today in the increase of social problems in the region, being disturbed of the feminist directions of Kurdish women’s movement has immense effects. The distance was kept with women’s associations and women that did not act directly with them. However, if this kind of powerful and pluralistic women’s movement had succeeded to be more democratic within itself and to be open for differences, the thing called as peace could have been much closer. Women’s being more powerful results in strengthening of social politics. Besides, Turkey needs that.

The plurality and thickness of red lines hampers politics. Feminists, socialists and democrats have the duty to struggle against the state’s red lines. But when the owners of these red lines are the ones who make defense of the oppressed, it becomes much harder to fight. And you can always come across with “it’s not the right time” reaction. On the other hand, auto-criticism which could be made at the right time strengthens the ones who are on the right side. For last five years, Kurdish women’s movement has drawn the image of being rigid and hard with its thick red lines. Though, if the improvements in 2000s could have been maintained, today more powerful alliances would have been formed.

And now, we are living in a new and important process called as Kurdish initiative. The endeavor of everyone who makes effort for this initiative is highly precious. We all suffered from Kurdish fight. But it was Kurds who suffered most. All has the right to be hopeful about future and to believe in happier and freer future. When the solution to the problem comes closer, the gaps left regarding the matters of life make us worried. Like the news that for the universities to be opened, teachers will be brought from Iraq. The biggest obstacle for Kurds to learn their own mother tongue scientifically was the state. That’s right but in this geography, the thing which makes people and youth excited was the search for freedom. I believe this search is still continuing. However, hearing the news about splendid marriages of DTP mayors from Hakkari which still continues to be the last in university entry exams makes people hurt.

In this process when the attempts to solve Kurdish problem has increased, I hope and wish for Kurdish women’s movement to be more constructive and exclusive.

From Amargi- Issue 14

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