Kurdish Fighters in Kobane, and the PKK’s Rhetoric about Gender Equality


This week, my two articles were about Kurdish fighters. The first one was a news report about developing events in Kobane. On October 20, after mounting domestic and international political pressure, the Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Turkey will allow some Kurdish forces to cross the border into Syria to fight the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobane. Turkey will not allow all Kurdish forces to fight, and will only allow the Peshmerga, rather than the PKK, to cross the border. “Peshmerga” is a Kurdish word for armed fighters, but more specifically refers to nationalist soldiers for an independent Kurdish state. The Peshmerga are not associated with the PKK, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.  My second post was about gender equality in the PKK. Over the past few months, there have been dozens of articles published about how Kurdish women of the PKK have been engaged in combat against the Islamic State. I’ve attached a picture of female PKK fighters above.  In an article in the Hurriyet Daily News (a major Turkish newspaper), Berfu Kiziltan examines the PKK’s claims about being an organization that practices gender equality. Rather unsurprisingly for a Turkish author, he argues that the PKK’s history of terrorism, in particular its use of female suicide bombers, is ignored in recent news articles, and that the organization has a long history of abuses towards women. In regards to the last article, it is hard to determine how credible the author’s argument is. It is clearly biased, but that not necessarily mean it is not factual or correct. Members of the PKK say that allowing females to participate in all PKK activities, even terrorist ones, allow women to prove that they are just as capable as men. The author’s argument about female suicide bombers has left me with some questions to consider: Is allowing women to be suicide bombers an abuse towards women, or is it promoting (albeit in a rather twisted way) gender equality? And does gender equality even matter when the perpetrator will be blowing up buildings filled with civilians? 


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