The deteriorating conditions of women in Turkish-occupied Afrin
While tens of thousands of women in North and East Syria took to the streets to celebrate International Women’s Day, women in Afrin, which has been occupied by the Turkish state since 2018, are subjected to various forms of persecution. The last massive International Women’s Day action in Afrin was carried out with the participation of thousands of women from Kurdistan, the Middle East, and Europe before the Turkish state’s invasion on March 18, 2018.
The security and rights of women were guaranteed in the Charter of the social contract in Northern and Eastern Syria, which was rebuilt after the victory of the war against ISIS. However, after the invasion attack, which the Turkish state called Operation Olive Branch, there was a huge increase in violence against women as the jihadist proxy forces gained dominance in the region.
The first fighter of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Unit), which was formed for the defense and the liberation of women, to die in the war was from Afrin. Women of Afrin, who lost many lives in the war against jihadist gangs for women’s freedom, lost all their achievements. According to the Afrin Human Rights Organization, the number of kidnappings, femicides, extortion, torture, rapes, and forced marriages increased significantly after the occupation. In the joint report of Human Rights in Afrin-Syria and Syrians for Truth and Justice published in February 2023, it is also stated that women have suffered from sexual violence.
Another human rights violation that mobilized non-governmental organizations after the Turkish invasion was the enforced disappearances. Despite the publication of the list of women who were forcibly disappeared on the website of the Missing Women Afrin Project, which compiles reports of kidnappings and disappearances of women and girls, no information has yet been obtained regarding the fate of many women.