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.
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.
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Happy International Women’s Day! Today is a day to acknowledge the history of women’s suffrage but also to celebrate how far we have come fighting for women’s rights and equality. Within Kurdish people, the pledge for women’s right is not a new phenomenon as we see examples of a myriad of empowered women of our own. We have a history of powerful Kurdish women, dating back to the 19th century. Lady Halima Khanim of Hakari ruled the region of Bash Kala until when the Ottoman government forced her to surrender.
In , Fatma was the chief of the Ezdinan tribe. Another prominent Kurdish women was Lady Maryam, an authoritative figure in her tribe. During the First World War, she assisted Russian forces to safety through her tribal territory. In , Lady Adela was a ruler of Halabja who exerted immense influence in the affairs of the Jaf tribe by restoring law and order in the region. She is still remembered today for saving lives of many British army officers during WWI and was consequently awarded the title of Khan-Bahadur by the British commander.
Similarly, the Republic of Mahabad in Iran encouraged women’s participation in public life and KDPI launched a political party for women which promoted education for females and rallied their support for the republic.
After an hour of driving, the men arrived at a spring in the mountains where they beat the woman with sticks and forced her to walk for about a mile before stopping in an orchard. But her pleas were ignored and she was forced to the ground, with her hands tied behind her back and her legs bound, while two of her other brothers dug a grave. Anecdotally it seems the numbers are rising despite increased awareness of the crime, educational policies and an expanded school system with campaigners calling for more action by the authorities to stop these murders.
In February , figures reported from the Kurdistan Health Ministry showed in the last five years over 3, women had been killed as a result of domestic violence in the Kurdistan region. Campaigners say the real number is likely to be higher. The Iraq National Youth Survey in found 68 percent of young men accept the killing of a women for shaming a family.
Direct wife and sister exchanges eliminate the payment of bride-price in marriages. In Kurdistan, a widowed woman stays with her husband’s family. If she is.
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! I was completely out of my comfort zone, and thus open to all of the stunning, horrible, and marvelous wonders of Kurdistan.
EXCLUSIVE: Kurdish woman fighters are finishing ISIS, smashing patriarchy
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Members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and Women’s Protection Units attend the funeral of Kurdish fighters from the Syrian.
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In Kurdistan and Beyond, Honor Killings Remind Women They Are Worthless
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Many Kurdish women politicians and activists are repressed, intimi- dated, and/or imprisoned. We think that the increasing tide of author- itarian politics among.
Join over organisations already creating a better workplace. You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time. The figure of the total population of each country is drawn from the global estimates listed in the CIA World Factbook , unless otherwise stated. All other statistical information on the demographics of the migrant population in Australia is based on the Australian Housing and Population Census.
Iraqi Culture. Core Concepts. Iraqi households are usually multigenerational, with up to four generations living together. However, the concept of family often extends to include all possible related kin that can be traced in their lineage. Therefore, Iraqis may refer to hundreds of people as being members of their family. For Kurdish Iraqis, social organisation is more community orientated than family orientated. Nevertheless, across broad Iraqi culture, family is seen as the basic unit of society and a unified singularity.
This is because in collectivist cultures, such as Iraq, the family is the first group a person joins at birth.
U.S. Kurd Not Keen on Sexual Equality, So He Goes Home to Find Traditional Wife
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. This regime of polygyny was, however, practiced by a minority, which included primarily the members of the ruling landowning class, the nobility, and the religious establishment.
A group of Kurdish women fighters in Syria | Bhanu Prakash Chandra in Syria, buy the latest issue of THE WEEK, dated January 19, ).
Please refresh the page and retry. W ith just days to go, Helen Mohamad Othman is finalising preparations for her annual Christmas donation. This year, Helen has been working overtime. Families were taken by surprise when months of relative calm gave way to a surge in violence and what has widely been called ‘ethnic cleansing’. Amid bombs and shelling, residents from some of the cities on the Syria-Turkey border took flight, fearing for their lives.
She bought, packed and delivered the much-needed staples of Syrian cooking — including jam, molasses, cans of chicken, tahini and sesame oil. She became one of many civilians in north east Syria pitching in to help people affected by the invasion. But her support of the more vulnerable began more than two years ago. In just over two years, the group has rallied more than 52, followers from all over the world, some of whom send regular donations.
Energetic, charismatic and intelligent, Helen knew her place in society didn’t have to be limited to the home and dreamed of helping her community, which for so many years had endured the hardships of war. Today, their community is well-known across northeast Syria. They offer free access to female medics and safe spaces for women in need. Those mostly affected by gender-based violence are women and girls; adolescent girls; women with disabilities and older women.
KURDISH STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY AND GENDER EQUALITY IN SYRIA
A Decrease font size. A Reset font size. A Increase font size. While Kurdish men and women were trying to defend the city from ISIS militiamen with limited ammunition and inadequate weapons compared to the sophisticated weapons in the hands of ISIS, Kurds worldwide took to the streets to be the voice for Rojava and Kobane. From the battle to defend Kobane onward, Western media and politicians noted the bravery of the Kurdish women that fought ISIS and its brutal treatment—including enslavement—of women.
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A blog of the Middle East Women’s Initiative. As we in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq have discovered, building a society in which women and girls enjoy equal rights to men and boys requires a combination of progressive policies and laws and targeted public campaigns aimed at changing cultural mindsets. Kurdistan is a conservative society that has endured decades of conflict in a turbulent part of the world.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, in we began to have a form of self-rule after decades of dictatorship under Saddam Hussein. This was later recognized in the Iraqi constitution of
the Kurdish highlands in northern Iraq with four men and a woman his year-old daughter to death for dating a fellow university student.
We asked Ruken Isik, currently working on a PhD exploring the struggles of Kurdish women, to help us understand what Rojava can teach us about building gender equity into the next system. While Kurdish men and women were trying to defend the city from ISIS militia men with limited ammunition and inadequate weapons, compared to sophisticated weapons in the hands of ISIS , Kurds worldwide took to the streets to be voice for Kurds in Rojava and Kobane. From the battle to defend Kobane onward, Western media and politicians have started to talk about the brave Kurdish women who are fighting against ISIS and its brutal treatment—including enslavement—of women.
But a question still resonates in many ears: how do Kurdish women join the fight against ISIS in such numbers, and why are women on the forefront of the struggle? What is the history behind this remarkable departure from the norm, and what can advocates for systemic change and feminism learn from Rojava? The answers to these questions lie in the Kurdish political, social, and military organizing in the Middle East.
Since then they have been fighting for the institution of a new form of self-governance in Rojava, which took on a novel dimension with the establishment of the autonomous cantons in January Kurdish women have been at the forefront of this struggle, and have made it their own. The achievement of gender equality is one of the most important aspects of the ongoing struggle in Rojava, and an unprecedented example in the Middle East.
For Kurdish women in Rojava, it is important to seek ways to make sure that women are not just instrumentalized for the national cause during the revolution and sent back to homes afterwards—as seen in the backlashes that women faced after the revolutions in Vietnam, Russia, and France. Therefore, Kurdish women have started to organize themselves in fields that would enhance the status of women in local society.
For instance, building new educational institutions has been a way to engage not only women but also men for long-term social change.
Kurdish female fighters are once again pawns in a bigger political game
The posters sparked angry street protests by Kurds, who are mostly Muslim but have a secular tradition and have remained in Afrin since the invasion by the Turkish army and Syrian militiamen, often members of jihadi groups, of which Isis and al-Qaeda are more extreme examples. The posters were taken down after a few days by Turkish military police, but are only the latest sign of pressure on Kurdish women by the jihadis to accept second-class status and to wear the hijab headscarf or the niqab.
The demand that Kurdish women, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, wear the hijab or niqab comes from Arab militiamen and from settlers with similar fundamentalist Islamic beliefs who have been forced out of eastern Ghouta by a Syrian government offensive. Reported to number 35,, they have taken over Kurdish-owned houses and land abandoned by some , Kurds who fled the Turkish invasion that began on 20 January and ended with the capture of Afrin city on 18 March.
Bave Misto, 65, a farmer from the town of Bulbul, north of Afrin city, confirms that Kurds are under pressure to abandon secular practices. His family is one of less than Kurdish families ho remain in Bulbul, compared to before the invasion.
As a Kurdish girl, I am always fighting a battle between traditionalism and modernism, as if these two ideologies are dichotomies on opposite sides of a cultural spectrum. I am here to contest this illusion that we as a society have bestowed on ourselves. This terminology is often thrown at us and I feel trapped, as if we have to choose only one side of the spectrum and remain there.
Kurdish girls constantly face the stereotype that educated women are too modern and have lost their traditional ways. Does obtaining an education mean we are neglecting our traditional roles? This assumption has always baffled me, because Kurdish history and culture thrives on the backbones of strong women. Our traditional mothers are vivacious and powerful.
What has changed? Why are their daughters deemed as having lost their heritage? I for one have embodied both attributes of traditionalism and modernism.