They attack to eliminate women’s victories’

DİYARBAKIR – Lawyer Cemile Turhanlı Balsak, taking a historical perspective on the attacks on women in all areas of life in Turkey, said that ‘’they attack to eliminate women’s victories, and women are fighting against this mindset.’’

Cemile Turhanlı evaluated, the politics of war in Kurdistan and especially the attacks on women. She said, ‘’Before the Republic, Ottoman women and highly educated Kurdish women like Mesture Bedirxan, Nuriye Ulviye Mevlanzade and their friends waged a struggle for women to participate in all areas of life. Their tradition of struggle, struggle won women the right to vote and be elected in Turkey in 1934 with Nezihe Muhiddin and her friends’ struggle during the formation phases of the Republic.’’

‘The process of the masculinization of politics’

Cemile stated that this struggle had completed the first wave of feminist struggle of the women of Turkey and that the woman laid the first milestones of politics in Turkey. “In later years, Nezihe Muhiddin and her woman companions were judged, exposed, removed from the public sphere, and silenced. They were isolated and there was an attempt to forget them. Many woman politicians in Turkey were allowed to participate in politics by breaking away from this tradition. ‘’This was how politics was masculinized in Turkey.’’

‘Positive discrimination is applied in democratic countries’

Cemile said that the trial of the Kurdish woman originated from the fact that they created a new model of politics that treated women as subjects, against all the approaches that objectify women in politics, ‘’Parliamentary representatives are being tried because women exercised their rights to political participation and because of their efforts to create a political culture based on their own experiences as women. In every democratic country, positive discrimination is in place to overcome the barriers to women’s political participation. But in Turkey, when women create a political experience of their own, what they get in return is a trial; they pay a price’’. Cemile said that Kurdish and Turkish women were being put on trial for their active participation in and experience of politics and noted that such trials were both historical and recent.

 ‘Women are being tried so they can be discredited’

Cemile said that a serious operation targeting women’s accomplishments was underway, waged through the judiciary. Cemile said that Kurdish women and revolutionary coalition members had started to gain serious momentum in politics. Cemile said, ‘’Women began to seriously make their presence felt in politics. The women representatives and politicians on trial are all powerful individuals. The judiciary is trying to discredit them. It’s not right to look at these trials as lawful. Every kind of unlawful thing has shown up recently.”

‘Attacks target women’s victories’

Noting that all these attacks aimed to eliminate women’s existing victories, Cemile continued: ‘’ ’The war in the [Kurdistan] region created a political quality in women, and women were exposed in a big way. Those in power are trying to remove everything that could constitute a danger to them. Women are the element that could be most effective in getting rid of those in power. Both the language being used and the political awareness in society are meaningful and important. In this sense, we can expect that women would be targeted.’’

‘The co-chair system is a significant development’

Cemile emphasized that there is a serious attack on the co-chair system. She stated that the co- chair system is a concrete indication of the extent of women’s struggle. Cemile stressed that the co- chair system has enabled women to take part in politics in an active sense, rather than in form only. She emphasized that the co-chair system was a manifestation within politics of a structure of balance for women, and that this was an important and far-ranging development.