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- In Kurdistan and Beyond, Honor Killings Remind Women They Are Worthless
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- U.S. Kurd Not Keen on Sexual Equality, So He Goes Home to Find Traditional Wife
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Meet Kurdish Singles
From to , they helped overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, battled al-Qaeda , and pushed the Islamic State out of northern Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks, some of these same fierce fighters have been violently clashing with Turkish troops in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin. Reports of chemical weapons and a high civilian death toll are now emerging from the conflict zone.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. In all of these battles, Kurdish women have fought on the front lines , as they have done since the 19th-century Kurdish commander Kara Fatma led an Ottoman battalion of men and 43 women. That was unusual for the period—but, then again, Kurdish women have long been exceptions in the mostly conservative Middle East.
So who, exactly, are the Kurds? And why do Kurdish women enjoy significantly more freedoms than many other Muslim women in the Middle East? Kurdistan, where I was born, is among the largest nations in the world without a state. The Kurds were first split up politically in the 17th century, when their territory was divided between the Ottoman and Safavid empires. Already at that time, the Roman scholar Pietro Della Valle traveled to the region and was surprised to find "Kurdish women commuting freely without hijab.
The partition again fragmented the Kurds, this time across four countries: modern-day Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The Kurds have been fighting for their sovereignty ever since. In recent decades, they have succeeded in establishing autonomously governed regions within Iraq and Syria. But in Iran and Turkey, the Kurds continue their armed struggle , which has led both countries to view this ethnic minority as a terrorist threat and to legally repress Kurdish populations.
This set-up has put Kurdistan—domestically a rather peaceable, prosperous place with significant oil reserves —squarely in the center of a geopolitical quagmire. The U. But Turkey—a U.
Activists in Afrin, Syria, say over people have been killed in the ongoing Turkish attacks on the Kurdish-majority city , which Turkish armed forces considers a "terrorist corridor.
The Marxist-Leninist PKK, founded in , may be an enemy of the Turkish state , but it also happens to be one of the most feminist movements in the Middle East. The group held its first congress on women's rights in , in which PKK co-founder Sakine Cansiz—who was later shot dead in an apparent assassination in —proposed that its "liberation for all" rhetoric must include women's liberation too.
Today the party's political agenda explicitly recognizes religious minorities, dissidents, and women as the crux of democracy. In the the autonomous Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria, women have the same legal rights as men. Indeed, the Iraqi Kurdish regional government has a higher proportion of women than United Kingdom—30 percent versus 20 percent.
The charter of the semiautonomous Syrian Federation of Kurdistan, founded in , requires that women must hold a minimum of 40 percent of all government posts. Every Kurdish Syrian public institution must also have two co-presidents, one male and one female. Women also make up 40 percent of Kurdish fighters deployed across the Middle East. Today, more than 25, Kurdish women are deployed in Syria as the Women's Protection Units, an all-female militia inspired by the KPP's feminist liberation ideology.
In contrast, about 14 percent of the U. Currently, women are on the brutal front lines of Afrin. Their prominence has caught the eye of the international media.
But, in my opinion, the reporting has not accurately reflected the complexity of Kurdish feminism. State media in Turkey and Iran, for example, often reflect the government's view that female Kurdish guerrilla fighters are man-hating terrorists. Western reporters, on the other hand, may portray Kurdish female fighters as oppressed victims of a backwards culture who are looking for an escape. Others outlets focus on their looks.
In , British papers dubbed fighter Asia Ramazan Antar the " Kurdish Angelina Jolie ," neglecting the relevant fact that Antar had been forced into marriage as a teenager.
That's because, despite the relative freedom of women in Kurdistan compared to elsewhere in the Middle East, gender norms are not entirely equal there either. In , only 12 of judges in Iraqi Kurdistan were female, and just one of 21 government ministers was. Female genital mutilation, child marriage, and honor killings—in which male family members murder women who are alleged to have disgraced their families— persist , particularly in rural areas of Kurdistan.
And, in my experience, feminist debates like equal pay for women and MeToo aren't yet a topic of conversation in Kurdistan. Historically, too, it's noteworthy that many famous female Kurdish leaders succeeded only because their empowerment did not challenge the male establishment. But she originally rose to power because she inherited the position when her husband died. While ruling Halabja from to , she did not push a women's rights agenda. Kurdish women who were seen as threats to male authority have often been punished, sometimes with death.
That's what happened to the very first woman to fight in the Kurdish army. Margaret George Shello quickly rose up among the all-male ranks in the s to lead troops in the Kurdish war for independence from Iraq.
She was murdered in under mysterious circumstances. Some historians believe that Shello was killed by her lover because she rejected his marriage proposal. Others say she was assassinated by the Kurdish leadership, which feared her growing influence. It's meaningful that in the Kurdish language the word for woman—"jin"—shares a root with the word for life: "jiyan.
In a region surrounded by threats—from Turkey's attacks and Islamic State terrorism and patriarchy at home—the women of Kurdistan are fighting for their life and liberty. And the cost is hard, dangerous labor. This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article. Tired of candidates who offer splashy, unrealistic promises, many citizens lost faith in the electoral process. That discontent showed in the election turnout. The authoritarian leader attempted to turn recent local elections into a referendum about national security. The results suggest his tactics did not work.
A gender-targeted approach to harm reduction and drug treatment could help close the gaps between how male and female drug users can work toward recovery. In , one in four American armed personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan was a private contractor—most of whom were older, white men. News in Brief. Social Justice. Home Social Justice. Lands of Metamorphosis.
In Kurdistan and Beyond, Honor Killings Remind Women They Are Worthless
A naturalized U. As a self-employed businessman, he could afford to take several months off to make the trip. I want a real Kurdish woman who knows her role and accepts it.
After graduating college in , I wanted to teach in the Middle East. Somehow, through various connections in the region, I found myself working in a private elementary school in Iraqi Kurdistan. I arrived ignorant, but ready to learn. While I was there, I discovered a world that was entirely new to me, and I explored various facets of the society I was living in. It was mind-blowing!
The history of the community began well before the destruction of the First Temple and continued for many generations. Ancient tradition has it that Jews were settled in Kurdistan 2, years ago, part of the Ten Tribes dispersed by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser. He describes finding over one hundred Jewish communities, including the 25, strong community of Amadiya, for whom Aramaic was still a spoken language. Indeed, their use of an ancient form of Aramaic formally called Suriyani, i. When not specified, "Talmud" refers to the Babylonian Talmud. Scholars agree that by the beginning of the second century c. Judaism was firmly established in central Kurdistan. During the fourth and fifth centuries Kurdistan was a fertile ground for conversion to Christianity, yet most Jews. Records have been found from the Place for storing books or ritual objects which have become unusable.
U.S. Kurd Not Keen on Sexual Equality, So He Goes Home to Find Traditional Wife
From to , they helped overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, battled al-Qaeda , and pushed the Islamic State out of northern Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks, some of these same fierce fighters have been violently clashing with Turkish troops in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin. Reports of chemical weapons and a high civilian death toll are now emerging from the conflict zone. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. In all of these battles, Kurdish women have fought on the front lines , as they have done since the 19th-century Kurdish commander Kara Fatma led an Ottoman battalion of men and 43 women.
We have come to this autonomous region in northern Iraq as social anthropologists to research violence against women — particularly, honor killings — by interviewing local experts, including United Nations personnel. We were told by a Kurdish man here that women have no value. And it is his right to control women, because this is the religion — the Koran says so. We wanted to document why honor killings and honor suicides are continuing in Kurdistan if not on the rise, some people say.
Knowledge about the early history of Kurdish women is limited by both the dearth of records and the near absence of research. In 16th century , Prince Sharaf ad-Din Bitlisi wrote a book titled Sharafnama , which makes references to the women of the ruling landowning class, and their exclusion from public life and the exercise of state power. It says that the Kurds of the Ottoman Empire, who follow Islamic tradition , took four wives and, if they could afford it, four maids or slave girls.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: KURDISH dating
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7 Things You Need to Know About Iraqi Kurdistan
The Complex Gender Politics of Kurdistan