From Kurdistan to Colombia, women resist

Resistance knows no borders, as Kurdish CPT member Runak Radha joins the struggles of CPT Colombia’s women’s movements for the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women on 25 November
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CPT members stand on stage, wearing blue vests, preparing to speak during the event for 25 November, the Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, in Barrancabermeja, Colombia.

On 25 November, the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, Community Peacemaker Teams – Colombia participated in a space organized by the Women’s Social Movement against War and for Peace. We used this space to denounce the genocide committed by Israel against the Palestinian people and, in addition, our colleague Runak from Community Peacemaker Teams – Iraqi Kurdistan shared a powerful personal reflection that we now want to share with you here:

I am a Kurdish woman from Rojhalat, the Iranian part of Kurdistan. As a child, I was told by my family, school, and community that it wasn’t acceptable for me to sing, dance, laugh in public, or ride a bicycle. I never could have dreamed of being a judge or a president because I was a woman. I could not leave the country and travel without my father or husband’s permission. My court testimony and inheritance were deemed worth half that of a man.

As one of the women from my homeland said, “We were among very few women in the world whose grandmothers had more rights!”

And, of course, this systemic oppression made me believe that I am worth less than a man for so long. For most people, the “woman life freedom” movement in Iran was something they started to hear about last year on the news. Unfortunately, this revolution was minimized to a temporary street demonstration against mandatory hijab by many media all around the world. But for me, as a Kurdish woman, the philosophy of “woman life freedom” was beyond the desire to remove the mandatory hijab only, it was way more than this! It was the liberation against the self-destruction that an oppressive system systemized in many women in my homeland. It was about unpacking the injustice that Patriarchy was only one part of.

Crowds gather in the Camilo Torres plaza in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, holding banners in support of the 25 November Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

It was time for thousands of Kurdish women to say that our identity as Kurds was also entirely abolished by the regime that we were living under its flag. It was a historical moment of breaking a systemic silence! And such a decisive moment it was. A year passed, and I still ask myself this every single day: what could I have done rather than resist? And the answer is to resist!

I also found resistance a daily practice for many women living here in Colombia. I was honoured to meet strong women in different communities who have stood against the armed forces when their men were gone or hidden. The women activists were having a hard time deconstructing the old conformation and understandings of liberty and advocacy for justice and human rights. I am so grateful to meet these strong women fighting against different forms of oppression on a daily basis!

We are here today in solidarity with all women who face violence every day. We might have different educations, histories, religious and family origins. But our freedom is connected, and resistance unites us! Now, I want to invite everyone in this circle to hold and elevate your symbol of resistance. Something that inspired you on your path to eliminating violence against yourself and your sisters. Let us celebrate it in memory of all the women who were murdered, injured, abused and discriminated against for their resistance against violence.”

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