Peace slogans not enough for women

Peace slogans not enough for women

A new era started in Turkey one year ago but it was not even named properly. Some call it the “peace process,” others “resolution process.” The process is dependent on what comes out of the lips of two people. Nobody quite knows what is happening. In this puzzle, the situation of the women is completely uncertain. Especially in a male Parliament not interested in what the women are experiencing…

The aim of the Women’s Initiative for Peace (BİKG) is to provide women’s participation in the resolution process. They have spoken to women all around the country. They have met women in politics. They reviewed international examples. And they came out with the “Report on the Resolution Process.”

From this report we see that when it is war in question, women do not seek victory; they look for a permanent and non-sexist peace. And a peace in which women are not included becomes an absolutely sexist one.

Women within the Kurdish Movement are in command of the situation. Female members of political parties, on the other hand, are still not aware of the seriousness of the situation. The awareness level of the women living in the east of Turkey and the west of the country is not the same.

For example, a woman living in Çanakkale sincerely understands that there is a war when she talks on the phone with her husband who is a teacher at Siirt, because of the sounds of planes and arms on the background. The word “peace” gains meaning for her when she sees her husband’s enthusiastic mood the next day after the process is announced.

This is the general scene in the west.

Kurdish women BİKG has spoken to in Lice, Dersim, Diyarbakır, Doğu Beyazıt, Ceylanpınar and Nusaybin, on the other hand, are anxious and angry. They have concrete demands. The most important one is security reform. They want arrangements to be made to facilitate the coming home of those women who lay down arms.

Their nightmares are the language pressure and the village guards system. The fortified police and gendarmerie stations poison their lives. Since the PKK has withdrawn, they say they have been living in an insecure environment. They are uncomfortable when soldiers come and sit at their pergolas.

In Lice for instance, the fortified station and the municipal building are across from each other. Women come across soldiers when they participate in trainings. There are some who whistle at them, who make gestures, also walk past while making their dogs bark at them…

When they are exposed to such attitudes, they remember past traumas; they start telling of the cruelty they experienced at these fortified stations in the past.

From there, we come to the issue of truth finding. They want the truths regarding women during the war. They want the offenders of harassments, rapes, the unresolved murders, losses, perpetrators of child murders to be found and they want them to be tried.

Because, if they are not defined, mechanisms of compensation and recovery are not formed, then some of them will nurture their anger such as, “Did we put ourselves forward this much for this?” This anger may lead to the break of the peace.

A woman in Lice does not talk nonsense when she says, “Peace for us does not start until the state accepts the burning down of villages in 1993 and 1994.”

The male dominant process cannot meet these demands of the women. It will not.

For this reason, the legal framework of this process has to be established, and whichever mechanism it will be conducted with, be it a council or commission, women should be represented there with at least 50 percent.

There are serious traumas over there. There cannot be a “closure” without the compensation, recovery and mutual confidence building.

The sentiments of women, their experiences and expectations are more important than anything else.

Without meeting their demands, this peace cannot be adopted by the society nor will it be permanent.

Melis Alphan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Feb 1. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.