At mid-afternoon on 15 September 2014, the foreign minister of Kobane, Omer Mus, received a call from a UN official stating that Turkey was prepared to take in 40,000 refugees crossing the border from Kobane. Hours later, ISIS began attacking the city from all three sides and the YPG and YPJ forces began a massive evacuation of tens of thousands of villagers. Those that remained took part in a historic defence of their city, which, had it not been successful, could have had disastrous consequences for the people of the region.
Begum Acar from Socialist Feminist Collective interviewed Ayşe Tekağaç from Roj Women, about the lately published report of Roj Women conducted last September.
You interviewed people, mostly Ezidis living in Newroz Camp (North Syria) which was established in August. What did you aim in this report?
The main aim of the research was to document the situation and the needs of the Ezidi people who sought refuge in Rojava, who were attacked and forced to flee their homes by ISIS. Straight after the attacks in August Roj Women made contacts with the women’s organisations in Rojava, who particularly highlighted the lack of research and evidence documenting the situation of the Ezidi’s in Rojava. We are well aware that women especially become vulnerable in war torn, conflict areas, Roj Women took on this fact-finding mission and conducted a gender based field research.
How many people have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict in 2014?
There are no concrete figures, and it is impossible to establish precisely how many, the numbers fluctuate constantly, and families are often on the move. The official figures which were declared back in September 2014 is estimated around 500,000 displaced people settling in camps in South Kurdistan (KRG region) and tens of thousands more in refugees crossing the border into Rojava, Syria, the self-administered region of North East Syria.
Whom did you talk to and which method you preferred to use?
The report contains two parts, part one is about the perceived needs of the Ezidi women and men who were interviewed, we used the HESPER method, and this is a needs assessment which identified the perceived needs of the people living in Newroz camp. After establishing 110 tents through a random selection, we visited each one and spoke to the respondents face to face. The fieldwork team completed 101 interviews. The second part is a situational analysis of the Rojava women’s organisations and institutions we visited, for which we examined their activities and capabilities on addressing gender based violence. The second part aimed to address the main gender based violence issues that might arise for the new refugees in Rojava and record the existing activities and supports for the migrant and displaced women. We also conducted 4 in-depth interviews with Ezidi people from the camp in relation to the attacks they had experienced.
“Rescued women risk suicide and social isolation”
What are the main problems of the displaced women? What do they think about Rojava, under protection of YPG/ YPJ?
The members of the women’s organisations raised serious concerns for the displaced Ezidi women. It was indicated that honour-based traditions and religious rules regarding virginity and marriage are practiced; and women rescued from the attacks/ kidnapping, risk suicide, and societal isolation when they return. For example, it would not be generally acceptable for women/ girls to travel away from their families and due to this, women’s organisations had plans to bring training within the campsites. A large majority of the Ezidi community said safety was not a problem where they are now under the protection of YPG/YPJ.
Are there any women joining Women‘s Protection Unit/ YPJ after the attack?
We were told that some young Ezidi women have joined the ranks of YPJ after the attacks and these numbers have increased since. Some Ezidi women and girls have chosen to remain with YPJ -Women’s Protection Unit, and had called their families to say to ‘forget’ them and that they have joined armed resistance.
What is the situation about kidnapped women? What do people tell you about them? What happens if they are rescued?
In the interviews this was one of the most mentioned serious problems, which led us to carry out in-depth interview with 4 respondents. The respondents underlined that one of the main reasons to flee their homes is related to women’s honour, and those kidnapped women was taken as a prize of war. When we asked about the return of the kidnapped women and how the Ezidi community would treat this, they said the Ezidi community want the women to be returned; however it would not be possible for those women to marry and have a family, and they were worried about the women victims who may commit suicide and mentioned that it is likely that those women would face societal isolation. When we spoke to a member of the women’s organisations she said most if not all of the established women’s organisations in Roajava had the kidnapped women on their agenda. The women movement in Rojava refuse to adhere to society’s rigid rules of womanhood. So, with this in mind, those women who return as well as the refugee Ezidi women in Rojava, they will carry out trainings, activities and educational approaches to tackle the prevalent patriarchal systems within communities and in the region.
“Most of the camp administration consists of female staff”
What are the examples of male violence in the camp? Is there any specific work carried out against this violence?
The HESPER interviews include a question on safety and protection of women from violence a large majority stated that violence for women is not a serious problem. Most did mention that in their former lives before the attacks that this was a serious problem. This research was conducted on the first few weeks of the Newroz camp being formed, and a second visit to further this research would provide more information on the subject. Also, the camp administration includes women members from Kurdish women movement and Asayiş (local women security forces) members, and most of the camp administration consists of female staff. The majority of women we spoke to, when asked about security, were aware of whom and where to go to should they have any issue.
What is the population rate of women in the camp? What kind of gender-based services are needed?
According to UNHCR, total number of female count in the camp is 1782, the population figures are fluctuating and at the time of our visit 20 families were placed into homes in nearby towns. Newroz camp was newly established in August 2014 and had very limited capacity for addressing gender based violence issues at the time of our visit. However, the local women’s organisations indicated that they will provide gender based violence prevention services.
Are there any women‘s organizations from Rojava to provide psychological & social support for women in the camp?
We were only able to visit 7 out of the 27 established women’s organisations in Rojava, the Women’s Foundation was one of those and it is one of the leading organisation for providing psychosocial services; they have a 24 hour line on call service. They provide supportive counselling and case management of survivor. They advocate for the needs of survivor to family members and other agencies. They were one of the organisations that provided immediate support to the camp and made campsite visits at the beginning of the camp construction. During our interview they mentioned that they are extending their services to the women in the camps.
In the report, you also talk about women‘s organizations established in Rojava since the revolution. What are the main fields they work in? What are the changes in the society as a result of women‘s struggle?
The system of women’s organisations has been established since the start of the revolution and is under constant revision. These organisations are funded and run by volunteer member who may share the cost of communal spaces/ offices in order to carry out their work. The organisations provide a variety of services including gender based violence assessment and support, family mediation, legal support, safe houses for women and children, support for the wives and families of martyrs, personal economic and social empowerment programmes.
Some women’s organisation members also mentioned that the fact that these communities witness women leading armed forces, commanding, taking active role in protecting their people and lands has inevitably played a role in transforming their views and perception of women. When we asked the respondents about violence against women within the camp, most of the response we received which were with little hesitation was that it was not an issue since arriving into Rojava, one woman commented she was now more able to talk about the issues women face.
What is the recent situation in the camp under winter conditions? What about international solidarity? What is the way to send anything needed?
Support and solidarity from all over the world is being received; however, resources are limited by the economic conditions of the self-administered areas and the lack of recognition of the self-administered government under international law. Funds and aid is often delivered through organisations from Kurdish regions of Turkey. However, there is a need for a stronger international activism and solidarity across different sectors of women’s organisations, civil society’s, NGO’s and governments, this is particularly vital for the missing Ezidi women.
Individuals and women’s organisations can do whatever they can in their power to support the people in Rojava, different campaigns are taking place to mention a few:
Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor a Kurdistane)
The UN predicts that many vulnerable people may not survive the winter unless more aid money can be raised. Heyva Sor a Kurdistane, formed in 1993, is the main charity supporting Kurdish refugees, where UN and other agencies have no presence. The temperature is already below freezing and more suitable tents, sheltering containers and heaters are urgently needed, along with more food and medical supplies. Heyva Sor needs donations from the international community to help these refugees and those still stuck in Kobane survive winter.
Donate using Paypal at: http://www.heyvasor.org.uk
Or donate using JustGiving: www.justgiving.com/heyvasor
Or donate using sms: to donate £5, text KURD78 £5 to 70070 to donate £10, text KURD50 £10 to 70070
-Roj Women is currently re-constructing its website www.rojwomen.org to include a donation page where funds will be dedicated to the women’s organisations in Rojava, this will become live by 15 February and contain further details on how funds will reach the organisations and how it is to be used.
New Decree also Abolishes Forced Marriage and Honour Killing.
The local government of an autonomous Kurdish area in Syria has granted women equal rights to men.
The move came as dozens of Kurdish women and girls are taking arms to combat the insurgence of terror group Islamic State (Isis), who have seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq since its uprising erupted in July. IS has imposed its own rules and version of Sharia law in the occupied territories.
The decree, published on the local government’s official Facebook page, stated that women and men should enjoy “equality … in all walks of public and private life”.
Women should be at least 18 to get married and they cannot be married off without their consent.
The decree also banned polygamy and stated that women now have full inheritance rights as men and they have the same weight as male witnesses during court trials.
Women will be now paid full maternity leave and they will no longer be subjected to honour killing practices, which the decree banned together with other forms of “violence and discrimination” against women.
Honour killing is the homicide of a person who is thought to bring shame upon their family.
The decree came a few weeks after IS militants admitted that they are kidnapping hundreds of Yazidi women and forcing them into sex slavery.
Slave markets across Iraq and Syria have been used by the terror group as a way to recruit new fighters.
According to Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the decree is an “affront to laws being passed by IS, which are highly discriminatory against women”.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the Observatory director told AFP: “While fighting the jihadists, the Kurds also want to send a message to the international community, to say that they want to espouse a culture of democracy and civil rights.”
The three Kurdish-majority areas in Syria have established autonomous governments, which, however, are not recognised by Damascus.
Roj Women Association (www.rojwomen.org) is based in the London Borough of Hackney. We work to provide ways for Kurdish women to recognise their needs and rights and to empower them to fulfil them.
Our ‘Enhanced employability, boosted chances’ project supports unemployed Kurdish women. Support, tailored around the individual, is offered via a variety of interventions including job search, employer engagement and work placements, mentoring and personal development planning.
Job title: Career and employment advice and support worker
A part-time position (2 days per week) to offer training, support and guidance to beneficiaries, identifying key strengths and development needs relating to specific jobs skills. The post-holder will deliver training and coaching on group and one to one basis and assess clients to enable them to access and sustain employment.
The post holder is line managed by the Projects Coordinator
£24,000 per annum pro-rata
- To hold sessions with beneficiaries on an individual or group basis providing job advice and support including assistance with CVs, application forms and interview preparation.
- To maintain a good understanding of local vacancies in order to effectively match customers to suitable job vacancies/work placements and market beneficiaries to employers.
- To assist beneficiaries to develop appropriate skills by identifying training and placement/volunteering opportunities.
- To deliver outreach workshops in community centers to inform professional and the general public about our services.
- To monitor the performance of beneficiaries and to keep appropriate records.
- To undertake necessary administrative duties relating to the role.
- To work flexible hours in various locations (within Hackney Borough) in order to meet the needs of beneficiaries
-Fluency in Turkish and English
-Experience (at least one year) of delivering training in group situations and providing one to one coaching
-Experience of building relationships with third parties
-An understanding of the factors to be considered in supporting people in employment
-Knowledge of the job market in Hackney and neigh bouring boroughs
-Good self-organization and self-motivation skills
-A qualification, or accredited training, in systematic instruction, training, or social care.
-Fluency in Kurdish
Please submit CV, cover letter and equal opportunities form by 6 pm on 4th February 2015 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only selected candidates will be contacted.
Please note the start date for this post is 23 February 2015
By Gönül Kaya
Gönül Kaya is a journalist and representative of the Kurdish women’s movement. This article is the transcript of her speech at the Jineology Conference in March 2014 in Cologne, Germany.
Why Jineology? Re-Constructing the Sciences towards a Communal and Free Life
The Free Women’s Movement of Kurdistan evaluates jineology as an important step in its ongoing intellectual, ideological-political self-defense and mobilization struggle of about 30 years. I would like to introduce -albeit briefly- the main principles of jineology, which the Kurdish women’s movement offers to the women’s movements around the world.
Jineology is described as the “creation of a women’s paradigm” by the freedom struggle of Kurdish women. This represents a new phase from the perspective of the Kurdish women’s movement. The Kurdish women’s movement emerged and developed within the Kurdish national liberation struggle. From 1987 on, it began with specific and autonomous women’s organization works. After this development, many important changes and transformations occurred in Kurdistan, which have also determined the societal struggle. On one hand, the Kurdish women’s movement advanced its specific and autonomous organization internally, but on the other hand it transmitted and thus shared its findings with all areas of the societal struggle. The people’s uprisings against the colonization of Kurdistan (in Kurdish: “Serhildan”), which started after 1989, were led by women. From the viewpoint of Kurdish society, this was the beginning of a national resistance phase with a new women-focused character. In this sense, the women’s movement advanced its theoretical and practical work in fields such as intellect, politics, society, culture, and self-defense. The following key stages were: 1993 – formation of the women’s army, 1996 – theory and practice for the emancipation from the patriarchal system, after 1998 – women’s liberation ideology, 1999 – party formation, from 2000 on – construction of a democratic social system within the framework of a democratic, ecological, and gender-egalitarian societal paradigm. The creation of women’s councils, academies, and cooperatives were achieved in this context. Under the motto “Women’s liberation is the liberation of society”, the women’s movement focused on ideological, philosophical, and intellectual work . Within the frame of the unity between theory and practice, it worked towards a transformation of the thinking of women and society, as well as towards an increased consciousness. It was looking for answers to questions such as “Who is the woman? Where does she come from? Where does she go? How has she lived until today? How should women live? What kind of society?” and developed a critique of the prevailing scientific field.
As you all know, in history, rulers and power holders have established their systems first in thought. As an extension of the patriarchal system, a field of social sciences has been created, which is male, class-specific, and sexist in character. This field is in turn broken up into different parts that are torn apart from each other. The implementation of the interpretations of these sciences has led to devastating results for nature, society and human beings: The normalization of militarism and violence, the deepening of sexism and nationalism, the unrestrained development of technology, especially weapon technology for the control of society and individuals, the destruction of nature, nuclear energy, cancerous urbanization, demographic problems, anti-ecological industrialism, Gordian knots of social issues, extreme individualization, the rise of sexist policies and practices against women, rights and freedoms that only exist on paper.
At this point, we propose Jineology. It was observed that it is necessary to overcome the system of the dominating field of science and to construct an alternative system of science. In addition, we understood that the existing fields of the social sciences must be freed from sexism.
The term Jineology was concretely used for the first time by the Kurdish people’s representative Mr. Abdullah Öcalan in his writings from 2003 in his work “The Sociology of Freedom”. Öcalan expressed that women and all individuals, societies, and peoples that are not carriers of power and the state need to develop their own and free social sciences, that these sciences could be called Sociology of Freedom, that these in turn could be based on Jineology, because movements that aim at a free, equal, and democratic communal society have a strong need for Jineology.
The term Jineology means “women’s science”. “Jin” is Kurdish and means “woman”. Logy is derived from the Greek term “logos” for knowledge. “Jin” in turn comes from the Kurdish term “Jiyan”, which means “life”. In the Indo-European language group and in the Middle East the words Jin, Zin or Zen, all of which mean “woman”, are often synonymous with life and vitality.
In the history of humanity, the woman was evaluated as the first existence that has gained knowledge about her own self. Life and sociality were knitted on the basis of moral and political principles with the woman at the center. Natural society with its moral and political values was built by the woman. There is an unbreakable bond between women and life. The woman represents animportant part of social nature in her body and in her meaning. This is the reason for associating woman with life. The woman represents life, life symbolizes the woman. For this reason, Jineology as women’s science is also referred to as the science of life.
Upon closer examination of patriarchal system stages, starting with the Sumerian civilization, it is clear that the rulers, until today, have established their power positions initially in thought. For example, the distinction between subject and object for social structures was first established by the modern sciences in the minds. This fiction imposed on society that man is subject, woman is object, Mr Subject, Mrs Object, master subject, slave object, state subject, society object. This logic of power has made both women and society believe in this distinction of oppressors and the oppressed. It used mythology, philosophy, and science for this purpose. The paradigm of sexism has been built in this sense.
Knowledge structures require free discussions. But if we look at the relationship between knowledge and power, this is difficult to detect. In this context, the questioning of patriarchal, power-centered structures is necessary. Likewise, starting with an epistemology in favor of humans, women, nature, and society, there is a need for a new investigation, interpretation, renewal, and awareness. The principles, hypotheses, and results of the existing social sciences must be re-discussed and critically examined. Correct and incorrect information must be separated from each other. It is of great importance that we reach a truthful interpretation of historical society.
Today the woman also represents an entity on which a lot of policies are being made. These policies are not designed to liberate the woman or to strengthen her will. Because of these policies, the woman is more suppressed, killed in a soft or hard way that obscures her past and present. Today, knowledge and science are in the first rows of fundamental spheres of power. With the constant reproduction of ideologies and policies in the areas of politics, society, economics, religion, technology, philosophy, etc., hostile to women and society, the sciences play a major role. The link between knowledge and power, together with the exclusion of ethics, has been pushed indefinitely, especially in today’s age. The sexist nature of science has deepened and explained problems irresolvably, mostly in this age.
The social sciences in a general sense cover up the fact that women are a social reality. The prevailing understanding of science does not reveal all that which belongs to women, starting with her history. In describing women and their role in society, the dominant understanding of science determines statutes on the biological differences between women and men. For example, based on their ability to give birth, it is claimed that women act purely “based on emotionality”. Or because of the physical attributes of men, it is alleged that violence is part of their nature. These statements are supposed to be proven by scientific concepts and experiments. In this way, women are made to play the passive role, while men are ascribed to an active role. Subjugation and violence are portrayed as belonging to the nature of humanity and are presented as insurmountable facts. Science is exploited for this purpose and the pillars of the system are thus strengthened.
To this day, many feminist researchers have done important work to point out the links between knowledge and societal sexism from different perspectives. With their work, they have shown that modern science, from the 17th century on, has a masculine language and structure. They have shown that the problem in the relationship between subject and object, as the basis of scientific knowledge, was founded on the basis of sexist metaphors from the very start. For example, they have shown us how much of modern science in the thought of Francis Bacon, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern science, displays a sexist attitude and language. Bacon considered the knowledge relationship between nature and human spirit really as a relation of domination. He liked to use the patriarchal family and marriage as metaphors and he engaged in witch hunting. From the perspective of Bacon, who is responsible for the quote “knowledge is power”, reason is male, while nature is female. According to Bacon, the relationship between abstracted reason and nature, which has been discarded as soulless matter, could only be one of mastery, conquest, seduction. And so his utopia of New Atlantis consists of an island of men, who make knowledge and science the basis of their power.
In the modern understanding of knowledge the self is constructed as a controlling subject by the separation from the “other”, i.e. of nature and the feminine, while these “others” are objectified. For this reason, the “other” is controlled and put under tyranny. For example, Descartes excludes intuitive, empathic elements from science and philosophy. This expresses a masculinized understanding of science. Positivism, too, illustrates the basis of this knowledge understanding. Realities are disconnected from each other, problems are deprived of any definition, the reasons of problems are sought within current borders, historic roots are disregarded. According to this view, history is lifeless. It was lived through and has now reached its end. Moreover, positivism, which applies universal laws to society, presents the fact as the only unchangeable truth.
This sexist and biased science explains history, politics, society, economy, culture, art, aesthetics, and other topics of the social sciences according to its understanding of power. The attitude of the existing sciences towards women, nature, and all the oppressed is biased.
Women scientists, feminist movements, and academics have made important contributions with their research and critical analyses, which strengthens our work on Jineology. Valuable work has exposed the male analysis of history. Moreover, there are women’s universities, women’s studies departments, women’s research centers around the world. It is one of the main objectives of Jineology to build a bridge between these important achievements. From the perspective of women, it is important to work together to build an alternative field of social sciences, to establish the system of women’s studies, to overcome the current dispersal, to strengthen scientific flow and the intersections.
The Free Women’s Movement of Kurdistan rates the 21st century as the century of women and peoples. The question of gender equality and equality for all the oppressed has never been as pressing before. A corresponding organization and the development of alternative systems and structures is inescapable. An extensive system analysis and the overcoming of sexism are in our view important goals. In this context, the Free Women’s Movement of Kurdistan suggests Jineology both for the solution of the greatest paradoxes of our age, as well as as a method for the development of the spiritual world of women.
Jineology presents a proposal for radical intervention in the patriarchal mindset and the patriarchal paradigm. In this sense, Jineology is an epistemological process. The aim is the direct access to women and society in the realm of knowledge and science, which is currently controlled by the rulers. The aim is to pave the way to the roots and identity of women and society, which have been detached from their truth. Women should create their own disciplines, reach their own interpretations and meanings, and share these with the whole society.
The Kurdish women’s movement began the construction of the field of Jineology in 2011. It is building an educational system for women and society, as well as women academies. Discussions are held on topics such as women and social sciences, women and economics, women and history, women and politics, women and demographics, feminine ethics and aesthetics.
It is necessary to scientifically express the existence of women with all its dimensions, as well as to criticize and interpret any knowledge structures relating to the history, society, nature and the universe comprehensively and systematically. Because the woman is a social, historical, and integral existencethat has her origin in nature, the definition of female existence requires a radical and profound change of knowledge and spirit. From the colonization history of the feminine spirit through to the economic, social, political, emotional, and physical colonization, a situating of the woman is needed. It is necessary to deepen and merge the scientific data and interpretations that have been achieved in the field of knowledge structures, psychology, physiology, anthropology, ethics, aesthetics, economics, history, politics, demographics etc., and to lead them to a scientific system. The solution of women’s problem of freedom will be possible with organizations and structures based on such an extensive, integral field of knowledge and sciences.
In entire human history, women and the oppressed have resisted as actors for freedom and democracy. However, it was not possible to overcome the existing dominant system. The main problem is that the forces of freedom and democracy have failed to create a system for their freedom, equality and justice values, to historicize and to lift them out the parable of power. Systematization and historicizing need above all the construction of an alternative paradigm in mind.
For this reason, it is of great importance for us, as women’s liberation movements, to create a mentality, i.e. a field of social sciences which puts women and society into the center. We need to be able to create the spirit of our alternative system. What if this does not happen? In the name of alternative, the same mental patterns, methods and instruments of the ruling system, the system itself could be repeated and reproduced again, this time on behalf of women and the oppressed.
This is another reason for Jineology. Its goal is to decipher the paradigm of power on one hand, but on the other hand to push forward the solution. It is not enough to criticize the existing system only, to decipher the inadequacies of this field or to say what an alternative should look like. It is important to liberate oneself from the disease of liberalism which says “Practice criticism. Tell me, how it should be. Tell me, what the solution is, but don’t implement the solution, just pretend like you do”. For a good, just, and beautiful life, knowledge is no longer enough. It is necessary to overcome the existing system and to build the new one beyond the limits of the old.
As women’s movements and social movements that fight against the capitalist and patriarchal system, we have to go through a new phase of change and transformation. The questioning of the influence of the existing system on our thinking and our actions must be deepened. Undoubtedly, the experience, change, transformation, and renewal processes of feminist movements have paved the way to this questioning. In this sense, Jineology is a result and continuation of the experiences and efforts of feminist movements. It arises as a reality, which also includes feminism. While it sets itself the goal to go one step further, it is its principle to walk on the trail of the experiences of women’s movements.
There is a need to conceptualize the woman as a social reality, to define her existence according to her own reality, to explain what does not belong to her, to determine the “how” of her liberation and to express the specificalities of womanhood for this purpose.
In addition, it is important not to detach knowledge and science from the social field, not to elitize, not to make them the basis of power and to keep the connections of society always strong. In natural societies before patriarchal civilization, knowledge and science were part of the ethical and political society. As long as the vital needs of society did not necessitate it, it was not possible to exploit knowledge for other ends. Together with the patriarchal civilization, women and society were robbed off of knowledge and science. Power holders and governmental forces became stronger with the help of knowledge and science. This led to the radical separation of knowledge from society, especially from the woman. Jineology aims at restoring this link.
Researching the colonization history of women will require the re-writing of the history of humanity and will have an enlightening character in this way. Together with the extensive and profound evaluation of the deep enslavement of women, the solution of the ciphers of her drummed enslavement will also be possible.
Jineology will make it possible for us to restore links between knowledge and freedom which have been torn apart from each other. For, there is an important relationship between knowledge and freedom. Knowledge requires freedom, freedom in turn requires knowledge and wisdom. The participation of the woman in societal life will be judged by her degree of freedom. The woman’s desire for knowledge and freedom is also an aspiration for truth.
Truth is the first and the true form of societal nature. All which was substantial before the patriarchal system has been distorted by it. The stages of normal development in the system of natural society represent what we call truth. For this reason, Jineology also describes the desire for these distorted truths. This effort will be combined with our quest for knowledge, wisdom, and freedom.
Important tasks await us in the 21st century: the philosophical-theoretical and scientific framework of women’s liberation, the historical development of women’s liberation and resistance, mutual complementary dialogues within feminist, ecological, and democratic movements, the renewed description of all social institutions (e.g. family) according to liberationist principles, the basic structures of free togetherness, the construction of an alternative understanding of social science on the basis of women’s liberation. The field of a new social science for all those circles that are not part of power and the state must be built. This is the task of all anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist, anti-power movements, individuals, women. We refer to these alternative social sciences as the sociology of freedom. Jineology can build and develop the ground base of these social sciences. It is a vanguard in this regard. It will both construct the sociology of freedom and be part of this sociology itself.
The Kurdish women’s movement which has been working on Jineology since 2011 and which has put this topic up for discussion attaches great value to the results obtained so far on this topic worldwide. It is very keen on discussing, sharing results, cooperating with and learning from all those who fight for the freedom of women.
As Kurdish women, we say, “The 21st Century will be the century of revolution of women and peoples”. We believe that Jineology will play one of the historical roles for the establishment of a liberationist mindset, for ethical and political structures and a free society that puts women’s liberation at the center. We believe that by developing Jineology and the sociology of freedom as a new social science by turning it into the ground base of our societal struggles, it will be possible to unravel 5000 year-old Gordian knots and blind spots of history that yet await discovery.
‘Many of those held as sexual slaves are children – girls aged 14, 15 or even younger’ – Donatella Rovera
Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the Islamic State armed group, highlights the savagery of life in areas controlled by the group, said Amnesty International in a new briefing today (23 December).
Amnesty’s 18-page briefing – Escape from hell: torture and sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq - provides an insight into the horrifying abuse suffered by hundreds (possibly thousands) of Yezidi women and girls who have been forcibly married, “sold” or given as “gifts” to Islamic State fighters or their supporters. Often, captives were forced to convert to Islam.
Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera, who spoke to more than 40 former captives in northern Iraq, said:
“Hundreds of Yezidi women and girls have had their lives shattered by the horrors of sexual violence and sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity.
“Many of those held as sexual slaves are children – girls aged 14, 15 or even younger. Islamic State fighters are using rape as a weapon in attacks amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The women and girls are among thousands of Yezidis from the Sinjar region in north-west Iraq who have been targeted since August in a wave of ethnic cleansing by Islamic State fighters bent on wiping out ethnic and religious minorities in the area.
Suicide attempts to escape the trauma
The horrors endured in Islamic State captivity have left these women and girls so severely traumatised that some have been driven to end their own lives. Nineteen-year-old Jilan committed suicide while being held captive in Mosul because she feared she would be raped, her brother told Amnesty. One of the girls, who managed to escape, was held in the same room as Jilan and 20 others, including two girls aged ten and 12. She told Amnesty:
“One day we were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear those clothes. Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself. She was very beautiful; I think she knew she was going to be taken away by a man and that is why she killed herself.”
Wafa, 27, another former captive, told Amnesty how she and her sister attempted to end their lives one night after their captor threatened them with forced marriage. They tried to strangle themselves with scarves but two girls sleeping in the same room awoke and stopped them. Wafa said:
“We tied the scarves around our necks and pulled away from each other as hard as we could, until I fainted … I could not speak for several days after that.”
The majority of the perpetrators are Iraqi and Syrian men; many of them are Islamic State fighters but others are believed to be supporters of the group. Several former captives said they had been held in family homes where they lived with their captors’ wives and children. Many Yezidi survivors are doubly affected as they are also struggling to cope with the loss of dozens of their relatives who either remain in captivity or have been killed by the Islamic State.
One girl “sold” to a man who raped her
Randa, a 16-year-old girl from a village near Mount Sinjar, was abducted with scores of her family members including her heavily-pregnant mother. Randa was “sold” or given as a “gift” to a man twice her age who raped her. She described the impact of her ordeal:
“It is so painful what they did to me and to my family. Da’esh [Islamic State] has ruined our lives … What will happen to my family? I don’t know if I will ever see them again.”
The trauma of survivors of sexual violence is further exacerbated by the stigma surrounding rape. Survivors feel that their “honour” and that of their families has been tarnished and fear that their standing in society will be diminished as a result. Meanwhile, many survivors of sexual violence are still not receiving the full help and support they desperately need.
Donatella Rovera added:
“The physical and psychological toll of the horrifying sexual violence these women have endured is catastrophic. Many of them have been tortured and treated as chattel. Even those who have managed to escape remain deeply traumatised.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government, UN and other humanitarian organisations who are providing medical and other support services to survivors of sexual violence must step up their efforts. They must ensure they are swiftly and proactively reaching out to all those who may need them, and that women and girls are made aware of the support available to them.”
Amnesty said that such services should include sexual and reproductive health services, as well as counselling and trauma support.
Source: Amnesty International
Women’s Approach to the Peace Process – Suggestions for a Lasting Peace
The United Nations emphasizes the importance of ensuring the security of women and children in processes of resolution and peace-making, and it encourages all member nations to make plans and develop programs in this area. WFPI has determined that, as of today, Kurdish people in general, and Kurdish women in particular, have very serious legal, cultural, and economic security problems in Turkey. The primary issues here are losses caused by the war, the village guard system, dispossession, the constant threat of imprisonment, rape and harrassment by security forces and the absence of any prosecution or justice. In order to ensure the security of Kurdish women what is necessary is to first and foremost decrease the number of security forces stationed in Kurdistan, put an immediate halt to the construction of military fortresses, provide education and services in the mother tongue, compensate damages suffered during the war in a manner that considers women equal beneficiaries, prosecute war crimes and uncover the truths of war. It is also necessary to develop policies to combat discrimination in Western cities.
Kurdish women have made it clear that they feel more safe and confident in terms of defending themselves both against men and against security forces in areas where women guerrillas are present. In a similar fashion, women are also able to defend themselves in many arenas in areas where the Democratic Free Women’s Movement is strong. Due all of these reasons, it is necessary to act in collaboration with the Kurdish Women’s Movement in all plans and programs attempting ensure women’s security, and to invest in policies that shall further strengthen and empower this movement.
This report is comprised of the Women for Peace Initiative’s findings resulting from the contacts it established and observations it made between May 2013 and January 2014. A couple serious disappointments with regards to the process of resolution were experienced while the Initiative was carrying out its activities and writing this report. While these were taking place, the women in the Initiative were worried just like all other women, they were witness to the anxieties surrounding the possibility of the dissolution of the process, and to the desire for it to work. First and foremost amongst these disappointments came the wall that is being erected between Nusaybin and Rojava, and the killing of three people during a popular protest against the destruction of the graves of guerilla fighters. What has become apparent is that Kurdish women have been proven right in all the worries and apprehensions they voiced throughout the process of resolution. The process is now at a standstill, but the hope for peace is still not lost. Desire and hope are not sufficient, however, when comes to reaching a resolution or building peace.
The “democratization package” that was publicly announced by Prime Minister Erdoğan on September 30th, 2013 and that was then sent to the Parliament on the 6th of December 2013, has still not passed into law. Moreover, this package does not contain what the state must do in order to make a resolution possible. The Constitutional Negotiation Commission declared that it put an end to its work on the 26th of December 2013. No steps have been taken to release those who are imprisoned as part of the KCK court case, or to shed light on the Roboski massacre. All requests made for the release of the Members of Parliament from the BDP citing precedents were denied. These MPs were only released after individually applying to the Constituonal Court. Neither the democratization package, nor the work conducted in terms of negotiating for a new constitution includes any real steps towards resolution. Furthermore, the regulations that have been announced are far from bringing equality, freedom and democracy to women, LGBTI individuals, members of different religious, ethnic and political groups, and to anyone who wants the resolution process to progress and peace to come to encompass the entire society.
The AKP government has increasingly continued to implement its policies that futher deepen already existing inequalities between men and women throughout the process of resolution as well. Its political approach involves attempting to build a hierarchy amongst women based on binaries such as married and single, those who have children and those who do not, those who wear the hijab and those who do not, legitimate and illegitimate, etc. Through its policies that consider women invisible and non-existent in any area other than the family, AKP has continued this invasion by the state into women’s bodies and their labour. Along with the language and politics of war, male violence against women has also continued its growth. The budget for 2014 was approved on the 20th of December 2013. The highest portion in the budget has been set aside once again for security expenses. While there are only 120 women’s shelters in Turkey, and no women’s shelters in 8 provinces whose populations exceed 100 thousand according to the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, this issue has not been taken into consideration when making budgetary regulations. Unemployment and being dispossessed from social rights continue to be overwhelming issues facing all women.
The changing agenda in Turkey constantly poses a threat to the continuation of the peace process in Turkey. The Middle East policies of the government have done anything but strengthen peace in the area, and the resolution process in Turkey. Instead, through relations the government has formed with certain groups that it has been supporting, it has served to further spark the civil war in Syria. The crisis in government that was unleashed on the 17th of December 2013 has set Turkey on a course where its future is even more unpredictable. The government has become increasingly oppressive, and this has made it impossible for there to be any transparency in the workings of those in power in Turkey, or any fair investigation into the corruption scandals that broke out. Rising government pressure in the country has also eliminated the possibility of establishing a state that is truly governed by the rule of law. In this situation, it seems ever more difficult for the peace process to acquire a legal framework.
As has been mentioned numerous times above, WFPI believes that the conditions for making the process fair, just and sustainable include forming a legal framework, and including women in the process in an equal manner, as parties, observers and negotiators. Furthermore, WFPI’s research, observations and meetings demonstrate that the peace process can only progress if a constitution with equal participation is created, the truths of war are uncovered, and security sector reforms that are human-based rather than state-based are implemented.
A decision must be made to ensure gender equality in the constitution and in all documents that shall emerge throughout the process. All effects the war has had on women, whether directly or indirectly, must be exposed. The perpetrators of violations of human rights during the war must be put on trial. And finally, a new security perspective must be institutionalized. This form of security must enable women to take full advantage of their right to life and to travel freely as well as to establish their social, political and economic freedom. All of these are also part of the UN Resolution No.1325.
The only way peace will become lasting and sustainable is if all oppressed and excluded portions of society are included in this process of re organizing the social contract. Thus, WFPI emphasizes the need for a supra-party body where women from all backgrounds come together to work for peace. WFPI also insists that this body must produce a national plan for resolution. Through its own work, the Women for Peace Initiative has been able to demonstrate time and time again that in organizations where women come together and share their own truths freely, they can indeed find common ground and work towards a resolution, while simultaneously voicing their very realistic and concrete demands.
The Women for Peace Initiative shall continue to work in order to transform the process of resolution into a peace that will ensure the equal participation of women in social life.
25 January 2014
Women for Peace Initiative
The Women’s Initiative for Peace (based in Turkey) is calling on everyone to take a stand against Turkey´s proposal of creating a buffer zone in Syria.
Kobanê, one of the three autonomous Kurdish enclaves in Northern Syria, on the border with Turkey, is once again under attack by the IS. The Islamic State (IS – formerly known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has besieged Kobanê on three separate fronts and is at the moment shelling the city relentlessly. Continue reading