Three years of war and terror in the midst of the Syrian war, Western Kurdistan has seen hundreds of thousands of Kurdish citizens flee their homes to become refugees in their own lands. The divided nature of Kurdistan is such that throughout decades of endless wars in the Middle East, the Kurds have rotated as refugees throughout their own region. Kurds from Southern Kurdistan seeking refuge in Eastern Kurdistan in the 80’s and 90’s and Kurds from East Kurdistan seeking refuge in North Kurdistan, all Kurds seeking refuge from war, genocide and oppression of the worst kind.
It is no secret that women and children are one minority within minorities whom incur the greatest of suffering in wars. It is no secret that abuse, torture, kidnapping, sexual assault and rape are very well documented, devastating innocent civilians caught in war.
I cannot for a moment imagine as a parent, mother or father, leaving your entire lives behind to find safety for your children only to fall victim to further anguish. I cannot for a moment imagine what it would be like to flee your children to safety only to have placed them in harm’s way.
The story of a young, innocent 16 year old Rojava girl who has been viciously gang-raped by 6 men in Hewler, South Kurdistan where her family has taken refuge from the neighboring Syrian war has fueled immense reaction from Kurds and human rights voices around the world.
The details of this brutally heartbreaking crime are not needed, the thought alone infuriates and boils the blood to the bone. However, it seems the aftermath of the crime reflecting on Kurdish media, society, police and leaders is nearly as infuriating as the crime itself.
In the last week we have seen this families anguish and heartbreak turned into a media circus by those who call themselves reporters and journalists. We have seen the silence of politicians and leaders within our government and communities alike, we have witnessed the unethical and deep-rooted source of major issues within the facade of what is to be the ‘Next Dubai’ and ‘Number one tourist destination’ in the middle east.
Rape is not only a major human rights violation restricted to Kurdistan, the Middle East or even developing countries. Nor is it restricted to women alone. Some of the greatest democracies in the world are home to the highest numbers of rape and sexual abuses.
Yet when the media have access and the authority to publish a rape victim’s doctor’s report and the fiscal detail of her virginity becomes the main detail of the media coverage of a reported rape, we have much larger problems in our society than just rape. There are fears of the girl being forced to marry one of her rapists to save her ‘honour’ and others fear of what is called a ‘Souhl’ where criminals are ‘forgiven’ for their crimes, a tradition which is associated with the tribalism society.
Hewler should be painted red with protests, demonstrations and voices asking for greater security for women who fall victim to sexual abuse, greater funds dedicated to resources aiming to prevent these crimes and resources to help victims. The entire world should be warring with rage for greater women’s rights everywhere, women and men alike. Yet, if social media was anything to go by the passionate calls for the execution of 6 identified men, whom still remain suspects, is just as infuriating at the crime itself. Six men whom are innocent until proven guilty, whom have been given an unfair, biased trial only by the same media whom defined the victim by her hymn; a perfect illustration of the society Kurdistan lives in today.
Where is the outrage? Where are the politicians or so called opposition calling for justice? Where is the pressure from both the government and the people for an apology to both the victim and her family for the unethical handling of her case? For not doing what police should do and protect civilians? The Asaish in Kurdistan have done magnificent work in protecting the people from bomb and terrorist threats, yet if they cannot protect an innocent 16 year old from such callous media, then who can?
I am sadly reminded of the story which to this day haunts India, of a young student who was so brutally rape, she died from her injuries. I am comforted by the thought that our angel has a future, but what kind of future are we going to fight for her? This innocent 16 year old girl should be used as a symbol for women’s and human rights of all in the Middle East, not as a circus show act making poignant the cracks yet to be filled within our society. If you do nothing today, go home to your daughters, sisters, wives and mothers and wander what you would do or how you would feel if it was them, if they were the victims of such a horrific crime, only made worse by ourselves. Tell them their worth and raise your voices not just for this young, innocent victim but for all women, all over the globe. That is how you can give this little girl her justice.