Open letter: As a new struggle begins

Open letter: As a new struggle begins
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Melda Onur writes that the women’s struggle must include the Istanbul Convention and a commitment to integrating women’s concerns in all policy.

MELDA ONUR- Today, March 8, 2023, comes with the glad tidings of our reunion with the Istanbul Convention. It is the harbinger of the imminence of days in which a right, for which we have struggled for years, that was snatched by force and deception come to an end.

The assault and rape of babies in the swaddle, the sending of girls denied their childhoods to infants’ schools* instead of elementary school, the massacre of female students in fires at religious dormitories which they were forced to choose because they could not find secure state housing, the children made into brides, the subjection to assault, rape, and incest in the streets and at home, the violence and murder at the hands of husbands, former spouses, fiancées, significant others, and predators were all of course destined to end.

Naturally, this new phase does not promise a magic bullet in the centuries-long struggle of women who were made the targets of poverty, unemployment, desperation at home and on the street, all kinds of man-made disasters, wars, massacres, and bullets. However, it promises a new era in which the women's struggle can continue more solidly and the fight for peace, equality, and justice can be waged on a more democratic ground.

As of this week, we must work on reinstating the Istanbul Convention, which is agreed upon by the presidential candidate and potential vice presidents chosen by a large percentage of the opposition.

And we must begin to fortify the struggle to have a say in one of today's most burning issues: our living spaces, villages, cities, homes, and our security, which are indivisible from our right to life. The impact on women’s life of earthquakes that have been experienced or are likely to occur in our cities, which men have turned into a potential mass graveyards with their greed for profit, has emerged as one of the most crucial arenas for the struggle.

It is not clear how much investigation has been done for the alleged violence, harassment, and rapes experienced after the February 6 earthquake, but those who voiced complaints were immediately investigated. It is certain, however, that this struggle will not end unless this mentality, which treats even the “menstrual pad” of a woman who has escaped the wreckage by the skin of her teeth, who is doing her best to gather her family, who struggles desperately to find a blanket and a bite of food for her children, as an object of sin, is completely eradicated. As the ground of our country is slipping beneath our feet, a new phase will be initiated by bringing democracy to the ground of politics.

It is no longer enough for governments, political parties, and democratic society institutions to merely have a "Women's Policy.” There is now a need for an integrated demand where women are the basis of all policies and a struggle in this direction; not Women's Policy in one place, Health Policy in another. Women should be the basis of health policy. All policy should be shaped on that ground. The Women's Policy of a single powerholder unfortunately leaves women alone with their problems. Women-based health, women-based education, women-based agriculture, women-based energy, women-based transportation policies should be our foundation.

Village and city policies based on women are what will protect our living spaces. It has become of vital importance for women to demand equal representation to establish cities and living spaces where she can live safely, where she can breathe, where she is not afraid of walking on the street or of being followed at the park, where she can walk at night regardless of whether there are street lights, that are safe and secure, where she can work for equal pay, where there are educational institutions for her to safely leave her child, where there is variety of social spaces. In order to build cities that can experience earthquakes not as disasters, but as natural events, the women's struggle should expand its field of action. In this way will peace, tranquility, and prosperity flourish.

The strength we require is found in our centuries-long struggle.

Long live women!

* Pre-elementary school institutions providing religious education.