Open letter: It is not our lives that will be toppled --it is the patriarchy
SELIN NAKIPOGLU- I would like to extend my utmost respect to those of you who experienced the destruction of February 6 and to the memory of every person who had their life snatched from their grasp. We will not rest in our pursuit of those who refuse to learn a lesson from earthquakes for the sake of profiteering, of those who do not prioritize science and reason, of those who have caused the death of thousands in the interest of projects that reap a profit. This is our promise to you…
Today is March 8.
It is the day of those who struggle against the patriarchy to keep hope alive. Just as we have been every year, we are again taking to the streets to stand against inequality, against poverty, against war, and against male violence.
We will be at Taksim at 7:30 PM for the 21st Feminist Night March. No matter what the sovereigns have said, no matter what they done, despite the bans they have implemented, we have never surrendered, and we have never abandoned our places. Neither will we abandon them this year. Will they pass bans? Bring it on. Will the police blockade the streets? Let them. We will gather despite it all to read our press release.
We will say, “We are being massacred each day. We are being assaulted and subjected to male violence. We will not abandon the streets. We will expand our rebellion. We will bury in the depths of history the people who pretend that LGBTQIA+ individuals do not exist and who willingly try to condemn certain segments of society to a life weaved in violence and discrimination. We will trash the constitutional amendments proposed by people who try to divide women along lines of believing or non-believing, wearing or not wearing headscarves, people who are disturbed at the sight of the rainbow, people who attempt to silence women fighting against male violence. We will defeat the “fates” decided for us by the lust for exploitation, we will pierce the darkness that this government buried in rubble has seen fit for its peoples. What we have been forced to endure is not ‘fate,’ it is an atrocity.” We will proclaim this loudly. Even if the sovereigns shut their eyes and ears, they will hear our words and see our banners this March 8th.
We will not live a life that has been eclipsed by injustice and inequality, a life in which we feel helpless or anxious for our futures; we will live our lives as we please and in dignity on days that are equal and in which we are not subjected to male. The striving of Iranian women for liberation has lit the way for the struggle of women across the globe. It is not a “hero” that will come to save us. Let us stand shoulder to shoulder in the belief that equality, liberty, and a life without violence can triumph in 2023. We will fight for an end to the identical policies pushed by one-man regimes in countries across the world. We will carry our struggle from the corners of the country to the public squares and to the streets.
We bore witness to a devastating collapse on February 6. Our pain is profound. Even in these bitter times, one truth hits us squarely; we are being subjected to gender discrimination. It is a fact that pre-existing inequalities and discriminatory practices are exacerbated by natural disasters. After the earthquake, limited access to tents, to bread, and even to water persists.
In the aftermath of the devastation, women in the region have shouldered the burden of the struggle for life in every regard. But what of their needs? They have been entirely pushed aside. Even after an earthquake, the responsibilities of making the food, firing the heater, and caring for the children has been pinned on women. We see that pregnant women do not have access to prenatal checkups and that the vulnerability of women and girls to violence has deepened, that they have trouble accessing healthcare and menstrual hygiene products. How bitter it is that they do not even have the opportunity to process the pain of their lost loved ones. On the other hand, women, children, and LGBTQIA+ individuals in the temporary residential areas are face risks as well. While male violence is increasing due to impunity policies in Turkey, there is a high probability of an increase in violence against women and children after the disaster. The question of how to operate mechanisms to protect women against male violence in earthquake zones remains. Despite this, there is the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Family and Social Services that have yet to give a single statement on the sorts of precautions that will be taken to ensure that women, children, and LGBTQIA+ individuals do not suffer violence at the hands of men after the disaster.
There is one other matter that burns like an ember in our breasts, and which must remain at the top of the agenda: Our missing children who had been rescued from the rubble. We read in the news that our children are being handed to religious groups. We have been asking for a month, “Where are our children?” And the response to this question by the Ministry of Family is: “We assume that a significant portion of missing earthquake-survivor children are at healthcare facilities.” You assume? Do you call this an answer Mr. Yanik? Women have submitted hundreds of requests to the Ministry as per the Right to Information Act. We want answers to the questions we have posed. You cannot say the catastrophe of the century, it’s fate, what can be done to brush aside the desperation of people who have been trying for a month to learn what has happened to their children and the futures you have stolen from our children. We will track down our children. Where are our children?