Event on 25 November in Berlin

At an event organised by the Women's Council DEST-DAN in Berlin, the historical background to 25 November and the approaches of the Kurdish and Yazidi women's movements in the fight against violence against women were highlighted.

The DEST-DAN Women's Council held an event in Berlin to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. The panel discussion was moderated by the writer Meral Şimşek, with Sultan Öğer, an activist from the Kurdish women's movement, and Nure Alkış, spokesperson for the umbrella organisation of Yazidi women's councils (SMJÊ), invited as speakers.

Meral Şimşek described the background to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and said: "When we look at the history of this day, we see the Mirabal sisters. Many murders, rapes and massacres took place in the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961 under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. The sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal fought against the dictatorship and were murdered together with their driver Rufino de la Cruz on 25 November 1960 after being severely tortured and raped."

In her introduction, Meral Şimşek referred to the witch burnings in the Middle Ages and said about the situation in Kurdistan that the true dimension of state violence against women is hardly recognised worldwide. However, Kurdish women are exposed to systematic state violence, said Meral Şimşek and added: "Feminicides are political and as Kurdish women we fight against them with the 'Jin Jiyan Azadî' [Woman, Life, Freedom] philosophy."

In her presentation, Sultan Öğer described the working methods of the Kurdish Women's Movement in Europe (TJK-E) and spoke out in favour of not only addressing violence against women on 25 November, but rather focusing on the struggle of women. The activist referred to Abdullah Öcalan's statement that a society cannot be free as long as women are not free. She pointed out that the Kurdish women's movement pursues the approach of implementing the "Jin Jiyan Azadî" philosophy in families and leading the women's struggle together with society and the struggle for Kurdistan.

In her contribution, Nure Alkış addressed the situation of women in the Yazidi settlement area of Shengal in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) and said that the PKK and the paradigm of women's liberation were hardly known before the genocide and feminicide committed by ISIS in 2014. This, she said, changed with the PKK guerrillas defending the Yazidi community against the Islamists. Women had previously not counted in Yazidi society. Afterwards, many women joined the liberation movement, she noted.

The event ended with a poem by Fatma Taşlı Tunç recited by Nure Alkış.