Since 2012, the AKP government in Turkey, has been attacking North and East Syria in various ways: Afrin, Serekaniye and Gire Spi have been violently invaded and occupied, vital civilian infrastructures are being bombed, civilians including children are being murdered, and members of our Self-Defense Units are being assassinated in non-combative situations. The Turkish state is giving support to various Islamist groups, with ISIS being the biggest one among them. These groups are responsible for mass enslavement of women, sexual slavery and severe repression of women’s rights.
We believe it is important to find the reasons why the AKP government is persistently targeting the Women’s Revolution in Rojava. This is why we researched and redacted this collection of facts.
20 years of AKP rule has been 20 years of physical, sexual, psychological and social aggression on women as such. This collection of facts describes some of this aggression: as Women’s Protection Units, we feel every assault made against women as an attack on us. From the data presented, it is clear that conservative and misogynistic policies form the guidelines and ideology of the Ankara government, and we see this as the main reason why the AKP is so incessantly targeting North and East Syria.
Housewifization of women under AKP
- In 2011 the “Ministry of Women’s Affairs” was renamed “Ministry for Family and Social Policy”
- Family counseling centers were instituted to convince families not to divorce, and judges refer to them to find verdict.
- Widows receive financial support, divorced women do not.
- Marriage of young people during school or university is encouraged by offering financial incentives and improved living conditions.
- In 2018, the Office for Religious Affairs published that the minimum age limit for marriage could be 9 for girls, and 12 for boys.
- In June 2020, auxiliary policemen were authorized to ‘observe’ the homes of women living alone for the purpose of preventing possible prostitution.
Reproductive policies against women
- Erdogan said “women should bear at least 3 children” with raising the optimal number to 5.
- In May 2020 Prof. Dr. Muttalip Kutluk Özgüven, Professor at Aydin University Istanbul, declared on live television that the ideal age for having a first child was between 13 and 16 years.
- Since 2016, the AKP has been trying to introduce a law that will reduce the sentence for rapists if they marry their “victims”. It is mainly focused on sexual violence against minors.
- In 2012 a draft law was issued to make abortion illegal. Even though the draft was not put in practice, according to the 2020 Kadir Haas University report “Legal But Not Necessarily Available: Abortion Services at Public Hospitals in Turkey”, out of 295 public hospitals contacted, only 10 provide abortion services to the full extent of the current law, 102 claimed is forbidden or not possible in public hospitals.
Women and economy under AKP government
- Turkey currently ranks at 125th of 142 countries in terms of economic participation, equal opportunities in education, health and political empowerment (Global Gender Gap Report, 2014)
- According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), women’s participation in Turkey’s labour market between 2015 – 2017 had the lowest rating among all OECD countries. In 2019 female labor participation was 34.2%, while male was 72.7%
- The former Health Minister Müezzinoğlu stated that the best career for a woman is to be a mother, and in 2008 the Minister of State Mehmet Şimşek blamed working women for rising unemployment rates.
- Childcare and nursing facilities are not widely accessible and reproductive work is entirely the responsibility of women. According to trade union movements, 500 thousand women gave up paid employment for reproductive work in 2019, and a further 12 million couldn’t take up paid work for the same reason.
- According to the human rights association Mazlum, refugee women in the camps are exploited for cheap labor, as second-wives and prostitutes; many are forced into prostitution as young as 12 years old.
Violence against women under AKP government
- Turkey retreated from the Istanbul Convention against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. Amnesty International states: “This will put millions of women and girls at greater risk of violence.” (2021)
- Women often don’t report violence to authorities because men who commit violence against women are insufficiently investigated or not at all.
- According to the report of the İHD Istanbul Branch Child Rights Commission (2018), Turkey is ranked 3rd in the world’s list regarding child abuse, 440 thousand children under the age of 18 have given birth in the last 16 years, 46% of recorded sexual crimes are committed against children.
- AKP has built a militaristic society and this has brought increasing violence, especially gender violence. Women’s’ demonstrations and feminist protests have been violently suppressed by the police.
- According to the digital archive Anıt Sayaç, the number of women murdered in 2008 was 66, 125 in 2009, and has continued to grow, with figures as high as 427 in 2021 and 397 in 2022.
AKP war against organized women
- Sexual violence is used as a form of warfare. In Kurdish areas often security forces exert sexual violence against women and children.
- On March 8th, 2008 the Office for Religious Affairs stated: “Feminism has negative consequences from an ethical and social point of view. As soon as a woman falls victim to the feminist movement, with the idea of unconditional freedom, she declares many rules and values that are indispensable for the family null and void“
- AKP is targeting Kurdish women, because of their struggle for a democratic, ecological and gender-liberated social system is the biggest threat to the AKP today. They are opposed to patriarchy, capitalism and imperialism and therefore opposed to AKP policy and ideology. Women’s demonstrations and feminist protests have been violently suppressed by the police.
- Since 2012 Turkey continue in their attempts to destroy the women’s revolution in North and East Syria, using targeted assassinations against women of the YPJ, who are fighting against ISIS.