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We call to account those who attempt on our lives!

By Mart 8, 2023No Comments

On 6 February 2023, two powerful earthquakes struck (the southeast of) Turkey, with epicenter in Kahramanmaraş and Gaziantep, leaving us shaken to the core. Our pain is fresh, and our outrage is deep although it has been a month since the devastating earthquakes that left, according to official figures, more than 45 thousand people dead, wreaking massive destruction not only in Turkey but also in Syria[1].

We feel outrage because despite scientists pointing out for years that an earthquake was bound to hit this region in Turkey, an active earthquake zone, the government did not put it on its agenda to develop a policy and a plan of action for making cities more livable and earthquake resistant. In fact, the government had other political priorities. The government, in defiance of all the pressure we brought to bear, prioritized not implementing the Istanbul Convention, a treaty focused on protecting women, children and everyone at risk of domestic violence. It eventually and unlawfully withdrew from the Convention against all our objections, leaving women and children even more defenseless against violence. Under the pretense of protecting the family, the government gave priority to attacking the existence of LGBTI+ persons and to pursuing nationwide policies of hate and violence against LGBTI+ citizens based on a fake agenda of a constitutional amendment it has pushed for months on end, in breach of the constitution and all human rights treaties. It took every opportunity to start a discussion on the rights of women and children to alimony, which remains unadjudicated and unpaid at any rate, attacking even the visions of freedom and a life free from violence outside the family for women and children who, as a result of wrong economic policies, are steadily becoming impoverished and unable to satisfy their most basic needs including shelter and nutrition. Similar to the case of the right to alimony, the priority of the government has for years been to draft proposals at every opportunity to provide an even stronger shield of impunity for perpetrators of child abuse, who have already been rewarded with impunity for the crime of child sexual abuse regulated by Turkish Penal Code. When women and LGBTI+ rights advocates took to the streets on November 25 to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and to enjoy their right to peaceful protest in the pursuit of a life free from violence, the government made it its priority to take them into custody by way of methods that amount to torture and attempted to intimidate them by launching criminal investigations.

After years of having been occupied with attacking the most fundamental rights of women and LGBTI+ persons and gender equality, the government, on account of its lack of coordination and policy, left women, children and LGBTI+ persons in the lurch in the aftermath of the earthquake disaster. A month has passed by after the earthquake and there is still not adequate shelter for quake victims such as tents or containers. The lighting in shelters is poor and the safety of women and children in these sites has not been ensured. Clean water, shower and toilet facilities remain inadequate. Sexual and reproductive healthcare services vital to women’s health, in particular menstrual products and contraceptive methods, have not been provided. Protective or preventive measures have not been taken against physical violence and sexual violence against women; consequently, existing problems rising from the lack of gender-based plans and policies have become even more pressing. Despite all these shortcomings and the urgency of the needs, women’s organizations have had barriers put up against them on various occasions to prevent them from working to meet the specific needs of women or carrying out legitimate activities including humanitarian aid in the quake-stricken zone. Against all barriers facing the civil society, women, feminists and LGBTI+ persons have continued to be in the fields at all costs to stand in solidarity with everyone hit hard by the earthquake.

Today, on 8 March, we shout out just like we do so on every 8 March: We call the patriarchy to account for attempting on our lives! We rebel against those who make it a policy of attacking our lives and rights at every opportunity although they are obligated to make our lives freer, fairer, and more equal! Today, on 8 March, we stand together, just like we do so on every 8 March; we will overcome these difficult times together, side-by side, gaining strength from our struggle and solidarity!

Long live our feminist solidarity! Long live our feminist struggle!

[1] According to unofficial data by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, by 28 February 2023, more than 7 thousand people are reported to have been killed in the earthquakes that hit Syria.