Voice of the woman in war
MÜGE İPLİKÇİThe week we are in is the week of March 8, in other words, the week when World Women’s Day is celebrated and when women’s issues will be dealt with intensely.
While the photos of eight famous women representing victims of domestic violence became one of the top topics on the agenda, I would like to think about the multiple levels of violence and its dimension reflected in wars.
News stories from last week reflected the depth of the abyss Syrian refugee women have fallen into at Ceylanpınar in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. In the real sense of the word, they are desperate. Our question is known: Who will hear and to what extent will their cries of “Neither al-Assad nor the Free Syrian Army” be heard? Even if that voice is heard, will the male-dominated system that tends to let out battle cries care about this?
It will not. I am that pessimistic and that sure in this regard.
The refugee women at Ceylanpınar have reminded me of the drama of those women who fled their countries to Syria when the Unites States intervened in Iraq. Reports in the New York Times at that time said 1,200,000 Iraqis fled to Syria, which had a population of 19 million at the time. Most of them were desperate women who had lost their husbands, fathers and brothers in the war. As if the trauma of immigration they experienced in the new country was not enough, these women were once more faced with one more evil: unemployment. Even those women who had diplomas in their countries had to succumb to the monster of unemployment. It was claimed that a portion of them became caught in the network of prostitution to survive.
Option of listening to women
Let’s go back to those women who came from Syria and sought shelter at Ceylanpınar. We know that one of the biggest dilemmas those Syrian refugee women experience at Ceylanpınar is, just like the women who fled to Syria from Iraq, unemployment. Harassment and rape are at their doorstep. The fact that the population that has fled is predominantly Kurdish points to a separate discrimination policy. Moreover, we also know that war is some kind of a game for those men in power while it is a matter of life or death for those women who have lost their fathers, brothers and sons in this game. It is women who have to witness the cruelest face of war. It has always been like this. Maybe the people in this world would have listened to women – and not those who are in power – if they had really listened to they had experienced. Then it could be possible that wars on this earth would have come to an end.
But this is not possible. As people on this earth, we find it more interesting to monitor tanks and weapons and which country gives an ultimatum to what country.
As I said, I don’t have much hope.
It was Iraqi women yesterday, today it is Syrian women, and who knows which women of which country it will be tomorrow who will be right in the center of the desperateness experienced and at the same time continue to be those whose voices are least heard.
And us, we will potter about, listening to leaders of victorious countries on television screens with their poetic sentences about military interventions done “for peace.”
Müge İplikçi is a columnist for daily Vatan in which this piece was published on March 7. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.