Roj Women to participate in DÖKH’s Middle East Women’s Conference at Amed

DÖKH, the Democratic Freewomen Movement, (Demokratik Özgür Kadın Hareketi) will host its first Middle East conference in Amed (Diyarbakir) from 31 May to 2 June 2013. Roj Women will join DÖKH in this historical meeting.

The Middle Eastern geography that we live in goes through an immense and rapid process of political, social and economic change. While the systems predicated on denial and massacre of peoples, cultures, and historical and social values rapidly disintegrate, the stance and role of women in this disintegration process pose historical importance.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Headway, Resistance In Advancing Women’s Rights

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan has published a new a report summarizing views of fellow activists in the field of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Source: CPT

Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan between March 2012 and March 2013 and their hopes for the future” traces positive developments and areas where change is needed to secure the safety and equality of women in Iraqi Kurdistan.

While women’s rights activism is growing and gaining public recognition in Iraqi Kurdistan, problems such as discrimination in the medical and legal systems, honor killings and female genital mutilation remain. Some issues, including domestic violence and court bias, have been addressed by legislation, but not acted on. Women’s oppression results in, among other things, suicides or attempted suicide by about 300 women each year.

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan invites everyone to read the report, and specifically asks those in positions of authority in the region to act on its information and work for an equal and fair society for all people.

Mothers of guerillas and soldiers together in a peace dinner

Non-Governmental Organisations in Riha (Urfa) brought together the families of 25 soldiers and 25 guerillas who lost their lives during operations in Kurdistan at a dinner in order to contribute to the peace process. The families of soldiers and guerillas who sat side by side at the dinner said “Mothers should not cry any more, brothers should not kill each other”.

Source: Femînkurd

Governor Celalettin Güvenç who attended the dinner also said that a fresh new page needed to be turned, and “edi bese”, which means “enough” in Kurdish.

Governor of Urfa Celalettin Güvenç, Commissioner of Police Mehmet Likoğlu and representatives from NGOs also attended the peace dinner which was held at the Çamlık Restaurant and brought together 50 families in total. The families of dead soldiers and guerillas were welcomed with carnations at the dinner where the walls were decorated with slogans such as “A call for peace from Urfa, the hometown of Hz. İbrahim, friend of Allah, and the capital of friendship and brotherhood”,“Enough. Edi Bese”, “Mothers should not cry anymore”, “Our tears should be those of joy”.

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Pınar Selek sentenced to life

Roj Women’s Association joins PEN International in condemning the life sentence served in late January against writer, sociologist and feminist Pınar Selek.

Source: PEN

See Roj Women’s Assembly statement about this case (in Turkish) below.

Selek is accused of involvement in an explosion over 14 years ago, although she has been acquitted three times previously. The decision was also made despite the conclusions of numerous experts that the 1998 explosion was a tragic accident caused by a leaking gas canister. Detained for two and a half years before being freed pending trial, Selek is now living abroad and the hearing was in absentia. An arrest warrant has been issued against her.

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Roj Women raise awareness around violence against women on 25 November

Women members of Roj Women took to the streets of their communities in London on Sunday 25th November, International Day of Action for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to raise awareness around violence endured by women, particularly by Kurdish women, as a result of gender and honor-based violence as well as of conflict, in the domestic and public spheres.

Who are the Saturday Mothers?

The first meeting of the Saturday Mothers was 16 years ago

Source: ANF

Seventeen years ago, on 28 May 1995, a group of mostly women from different age groups met in Galatasaray Square, in the central Taksim area of Istanbul and sat down in front of the Galatasaray School. They were holding pictures of mostly men, from different age groups. On the picture the name of the man and a word which was to become known also to foreigners, kayip, disappeared. Continue reading

New Report: Women Human Rights Defenders in Kurdish Regions of Turkey

New report sheds light on the multiple attacks women human rights defenders suffer at the hands of Turkish state actors in Kurdish regions of Turkey.

“You are a woman and we can shame you”

“Guys, open your eyes, these women are not here to protest against rape, they are asking for it”

These threats were made by police officers in the cities of Siirt and Mardin, correspondingly, to women who were at that moment engaging in the defense of women, ethnic and minority rights in 2011.

Roj Women’s Association has long campaigned to improve the lives of women in Kurdish regions and communities. Our aim is to further their rights and to expand the opportunities available to them by drawing attention to the factors that shape their struggle and by advocating for the necessary changes to overcome them. One of our strategies is to support the work of women who engage in peaceful defense of rights and political activism and we are increasingly concerned about the treatment these women receive at the hands of the Turkish State, particularly at the hands of policemen, village guards, soldiers and other security forces members.

Years ago campaigning to support women human rights defenders focused on sexual and physical attacks experienced by women activists at the hands of Turkish security forces; however, the last report was produced in 2003. Aware of the lack of up to date information in this regard a research delegation organized by Roj Women set off in 2011 to assess progress and to produce an updated analysis of the risks and challenges that women human rights defenders endure in Kurdish regions of Turkey.

The resulting report, ‘A woman’s struggle: Using gender lenses to understand the plight of women human rights defenders in Kurdish regions of Turkey, is based on the testimonies of 30 women from six cities across South East Turkey:  Diyarbakir, Van, Hakkari, Batman, Siirt and Mardin. The researchers observed a shift towards psychological attacks by security forces against women human rights defenders but not a reduction in their quantity and sexualized nature. The risks are indeed gendered and capitalize on prevalent honor-based and patriarchal social norms.

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“Judicial Practice is Problematic”

In her preliminary report based on a visit to Turkey in October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers urged for the effective independence and impartiality of judges, prosecutors and lawyers and an accelerated implementation of these reforms.

Source:United Nations Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, visited Turkey from 10 to 14 October 2011 at the invitation of the Government and included Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakir. Her preliminary report was now also published in Turkish. Continue reading

Saturday Mothers in 347th Istanbul sit in

Saturday Mothers were on the streets for the 347th time today to ask to know the fate of their loved ones who forcibly disappeared and to punish those responsible for their disappearance.


They carried the banner saying “Perpetrators are known, where are the disappeared people,” in front of Galatasaray High School, in the center of Taksim and Istanbul as well. Continue reading

The Strong Link between Patriarchy and Capitalism

At the Women Labour Conference in Istanbul on 12/13 November, Heide Hartmann suggested to make home care a part of public services. Yasemin Özgün urged to increase the women’s participation in paid labour force.


“People have to get organized to see the world we live in and to understand and change the way how capitalism and patriarchy are being organized” said Heide Hartmann at the Women Labour Conference.

The conference was organized by the Socialist Feminist Collective at the Fındıklı Campus of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul on 12/13 November. Continue reading