After nearly a month of conducting various projects, activities, seminars and demonstrations highlighting the role of combating violence against women in the context of democratization of society, central manifestations are taking place today all across Rojava with the purpose of marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Originally published in Croatian by libela.org. Written and translated by Katarina Pavičić-Ivelja.
Image above YPJ in Hasake by YPJ. Images below: Çand û Hûner in Amude taken by Jineoloji International.
Katarina Pavičić-Ivelja is a Croatian journalist interested in political topics and various human right’s issues as well as an array of topics concerning feminism with an emphasis on the women’s liberation in Rojava.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
As it is already known, the liberation of women is one of the three fundamental pillars of the current Revolution in Rojava – along with ecology and Democratic Confederalism.
Since the contemporary reality of women as victims of physical, economic and psychological violence caused by the patriarchal mentality that imposes a submissive role onto women, is a tangible, statistically measurable phenomenon, it is much easier to grasp it, tackle it and ensure effective action in the relevant context, as opposed to solely fighting abstract and much less measurable concepts such as ‘oppression’ or even the ‘patriarchy’ itself (that can be argued to have caused the aforementioned violence).
If we give women a central role in establishing a free society, the degree of total social transformation can be quite effectively measured by observing the degree of progress in the context of securing women’s rights, providing protection from gender-based oppression and violence and ultimately achieving complete elimination of it. Only when women are truly free can the freedom of all people from various forms of oppression or occupation (as one of the manifestations of violence caused by the hierarchical social dynamics of ‘the dominant’ and ‘the subordinate’ most noticably manifested through the traditional understanding of the ‘dominant male-submissive female’ relationship structure), be truly possible.
Therefore, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and raising awareness of gender based violence as the embodiment of various other, sometimes more subtle forms of oppression is of utmost importance for effective action in the context of building a society which guarantees freedom and security for all its constituents, given all the socio-political events within the borders of Syria over the past couple of years.
Bearing in mind the above, the women’s organization Kongra Star reminds today of the historical background of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, highlighting the case of three sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, brutally murdered after daring to rebel against the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, and drawing parallels between their murder and the deaths of activists, guerrillas, and YPJ fighters such as Zilan, Beritan, Sakine, Barin, Arîn Mirkan and Avesta Xabur
Whether it be resistance directed towards a Dominican dictator in the mid-20th century, ISIS or Turkish occupiers in today’s Syria, it is possible to conclude that the cause of all these murders is the same, gender-based violence that manifests as a result of patriarchal understanding of women as objects or tools for achieving other’s goals, as non-self-conscious and submissive, as ones who are excluded from the public discourse, as ones whose existence is the most appropriate when they are obedient, calm, silent – dead.
In the light of the long-standing war on terror of the Islamic State (which is quite justifiably considered to be one of the biggest enemies of today’s women), as well as the current Turkish occupation of the Afrin Canton accompanied by many violent practices such as war rapes and forced introduction of a codes of conduct reminiscent of those present at the time of ISIS, Kongra Star points out:
“The Syrian war represents a culmination of violence against women and society that reached its peak in Middle Eastern society, especially in recent years. The Syrian society witnessed various kinds of violence, killing, destruction and displacement. Of course the women have paid the highest price in this war, along with facing outdated customs and traditions that have been curtailing their freedom for thousands of years.
The Syrian woman have suffered a lot from the terrorist organization (ISIS), which brought the return of the era of slavery, but women didn’t give up, but fought and organized.“
In addition to the unquestionably decisive military role of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) in defeating the Islamic State, one of the most impressive civilian projects in the context of women’s self-organization that emerged during the Revolution is certainly the construction of a female eco-village called Jinwar (Warning Facebook Link) in the canton of Al-Hasakah, conceived as a safe haven accessible to all women who survived violence and dared escape it.
The need for launching this type of project, which officially opens its doors today, was made clear on November 25th 2016, according to Heval Rumet, due to the fact that “Patriarchal ideology raises men as potential murderers of women. Without self-consciousness, self-organization and self-defense, the life of every woman is at risk. Women whose physical lives are not in danger have been faced theft and murder of their own language, culture, feelings and thoughts. Therefore, (…) projects and struggles require that the term ‘woman’ ceases to be associated with death in history and culture, but that it becomes a symbol of life again. “
Over the past two years, those involved in the construction of Jinwar have built 30 houses, a school for children living there with their mothers, a hospital, fertile fields, a shop, a bakery that also supplies the surrounding villages and a smaller museum. All of this was achieved through the efforts of free women in accordance with ecological standards.
Although this rather special village is already a home of a number of women who have sought shelter from violence, due to its symbolism, the 25th of November has been selected as the most suitable date for village’s official opening to the general public.
According to information received, in addition to others, Jinwar’s opening ceremony is also attended by members of Jineoloji International, with the purpose of denouncing violence against women. The aforementioned platform seeks to provide a systematic insight into the field of Jineology as a ‘science of women’ and present its theoretical foundations, as well as the practical importance of women’s liberation in the context of ethics, aesthetics, economics, demography, ecology, history (or better yet – HERstory), health, education and politics. Furthermore, it seeks to present a new framework of women’s existence, one devoid of patriarchal norms and forced submission.
Jineoloji International has, in previous days also been present at the demonstrations denouncing gender based violence, as well as serving as yet another mode of women’s condemnation of the Afrin invasion under the slogan ‘Women Rise up for Afrin’. The demonstrations were organized by the Art and Culture structure (Çand û Hûner) in Amude.
On the occasion of the International Day of Combating Violence Against Women, Jineoloji International also published a video dealing with issues of violence against women, together with an official statement exclaiming:
“In Şengal or Afrin rape became once again the weapon of fascist and jihadist forces, which aimed to destroy the strength and moral of the whole society. Currently, the Turkish state is again attacking the democratic self-organization of the people in Northern Syria. These attacks are direct attacks on the women’s revolution. (…) Our answer against violence on women must be women’s self-organization. Just through organizing ourselves we are able to build up alternatives and, just through organizing we are also able to defend them. Let’s take responsibility to generate change, by being honest to each other and criticize each other in solidarity so that the basis of our struggle becomes strong and unifying. Let’s deepen the knowledge about our history, identities and methods of resistance. Let’s organize ourselves in assemblies and build up women communes, cooperatives and self-defense units. Let’s share our experiences and defend what we are creating together.”
Even though numerous public actions have taken place throughout the past weeks, as a culmination of the events organized on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Qamishlo today becomes the host of a mass women’s march organized by Kongra Star as the ultimate sign of sharp condemnation of all forms of violence against women, to which all Kurdish, Arab, and Syriac women’s organizations are invited.
In order for the importance of combating violence against women not to be presented as a problem limited to the territory of a certain country, in order to develop awareness of the link between it and the current Turkish occupation of the Afrin Canton and in order to emphasize the need for global action, Kongra Star states: “We appeal to all women in the world to organize themselves and to step up their struggle for freedom and freedom of their society from the grip of slavery imposed by patriarchal mentalities and to stand in the way of any aggression or occupation that threatens our regions and with the will of women we can smash occupation.“
Images below: women’s march in Qamishlo today. Images by Kongra star
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