The fate of many women who were kidnapped, detained, abused and raped and sold in slave markets in front of the eyes of the world still remains unclear.

A banner with the slogan “We did not forget the Yazidi genocide and femicide and will not let it to be forgotten!”

Undoubtedly, it is quite difficult to look at social problems with the holistic measures of social sciences and to limit them to certain categories. It is even more complicated to approach gender issues and their antagonistic contexts as facts. We know that these and similar gender issues have been discussed from the past to the present. Starting from this point of the context, in this article, we will try to deal with the approach plane and method paradigm to the concept of femicide from the perspective of social sciences through clear facts. I hope that a rich context and an understandable text will emerge.

It is certainly not possible to cover all the intersectional points of the meaning, construction and dynamics of sex and gender relations in one article, but it is equally inevitable to mention a few important historical issues. For example, we see how important different forms of discrimination, gender, skin color, ethnicity, belief and social environment are from time to time in the context of the subject we will discuss. These are important challenges for  knowledge and knowledge production, gender and scientific perspectives, and critical thinking norms. Because, considering that the principle of discrimination stemming from the femicide of Yazidi women is a continuation of the colonial and post-colonial social structures that come to this day, it is obvious that it is vital to look at the issue critically. Therefore, instead of looking at the problem of femicide from a general perspective, we will be contented with an abstraction from the murder of women within the framework of the edict to which the Yazidi-Kurdish-community was exposed, based on some historical references.

Although it was conceptually used for the first time in England in 1801 to mean killing a woman, the concept of femicide was discussed by Diana Russell in 1976 and gained a wide range of usage. They became pioneers in the academic world with their gender studies and   with the book (Femicide: The Politics of Women Killing) [1] which Radford and Russell  published in 1992. And  they redefined femicide as murders of women committed by men with misogyny. The concept, adopted by the feminist movement, became popular in many parts of the world, especially in the USA, in the 1990s. Various scientific disciplines, including sociology, epidemiology, and public health, have addressed this concept and according to analyze femicide in terms of the context, perpetrator profiles, risk and protective factors, they’ve developed approaches for solution. Thus, each of the disciplines developed its own definitions of femicide. A fully, axiomatically supported and conceptually developed “pure sociological” term could only emerge towards the end of the 90s, deductively in line with the developmental periods of historical and social processes. Applied sociological studies are dated to a later period. In parallel, both the United Nations and the World Health Organization adopted the concept of femicide/feminicide and defined this term. Today, femicide is a gender-centered gendercide that takes place more or less every day in all corners of the world, has existed for a very long time, but has increased both in intensity and visibility as women’s struggle for equality improves. While the term “gender” was first used to address women in the context of etymological history, today it is sometimes used with sexist motives. When we look at the history of femicide through the lens of unofficial history, this phenomenon is a gendercide that has always continued, even with very different motives, forms and methods. The main source of all the femicides that have continued from history to the present is generally the customs and traditions of the society. Therefore, the social customs and traditions, in which the law-maker is generally male, have always been almost a death law, death decree for women. The patriarchal system that removes women from every stage of social life and the traditions and customs that nourish, strengthen and consolidate it constitute the starting point of femicide. From mythological narratives to philosophy, literature and history, women have always been excluded from social events and phenomena, or they have been consciously removed. The fights between gods and goddesses, which are the subject of mythological stories, continued constantly, but the gods always won with cunning. The community power and absolute power that the gods obtained with cunning and trick have evolved into today’s violence, which has turned into an unprecedented gendercide over time. The modern age is also the period which gendercide is experienced against women. The process of monotheistic religions is an age that deepens in the notions of appropriation and enslavement. With the break of the second sex, the mother laws (Matriarchát) made by the mothers were replaced by the father laws (Patriarchát) [2]. Thus, when the law-maker passed to the male power, the woman became a fatalistic, obedient and responsible slave for the unqualified family affairs. Although she is the transmitter of cultural transmission, she is currently deprived of all social privileges. It is precisely this notion of deprivation that is both the cause and the result of femicide. Therefore, this is the reason why the femicide, which has continued from history to the present, keeps going in different ways and methods. Femicide continues in various ways as at times under the name of a witch hunt, sometimes raping women during the war in Bosnia, sometimes kidnapping and selling in slave markets, de-identifying Yazidi women, and sometimes smuggling Kurdish women into Arab countries as war booty, as successor of Anfal, in Iraq. What was done to wise women in the middle ages continues according to the “norms of the modern age” in our geography. Women were once burned alive in inquisitions, driven to the guillotine, subjected to all kinds of torture, violence, abuse and rape. Today, however, they are trying to take over the souls, to dominate the minds, and to break the wills of women who are the confidants and soul-sisters of those women. An effort is made to create soulless, slave, obedient women without identity, rather than resistant, wise and strong women. For this reason, a notion of defenseless woman identity has emerged, which needs to be defined as someone’s spouse, sibling, mother or through someone else. This disaffiliation discrimination against women has revealed the form of violence experienced today. The tendency to split the integrity of soul and body of women, and even to destroy their existence, has continued until today in a systematic way. The gender discrimination and the increasing normalization of related sexual assaults and femicide is an important proof of the ordinaryization of femicide. Both the existing constitutions and the “unprinciples” of equality and freedom of the states normalize femicide. As seen in individual or social examples, the fact that women are attacked first during conflicts or wars is one of the important proofs of the fact that women are seen as a property belonging to men. As the sole possessions of the male world, they are attacked and detained as spoils of war. As it is known, conflicts are often moments that exacerbate existing lines of social tension, make wounds bleed and deepen injustices. Therefore, a lot of hard work, from healing wounds to providing for the family, falls on the shoulders of women. As Werntz says, “In many conflict situations, women are forced to be responsible for the family, having to look after the house, field and children” [3]. Understanding, comprehending and developing solutions for all of these requires primarily working on gender issues. How soever complex it may be, it is necessary to deal with authority, power and administration privilege in terms of both global and local cultures and rituals. Because it is impossible to end the trend that strengthens the patriarchal system without revealing the codes on which social norms are based. The imposition of certain cultural elements born in the bosom of outdated traditions on women pushes them into a post-colonial slavery position and even attempts are made to make women “voluntary slave trainers.” These impositions are often reinforced by references to religious moral imperatives. We know that the enslavement of Latino women was due to the permissible and uncritical position of religion. Thus, the enslavement of women by the command based on the gods was crowned with social acceptance. It is not a coincidence that such pressures increase, especially in times when women’s demands for freedom, equality and self-reliance rise. It seems unlikely that the ongoing massacre will be stopped without a comprehensive description of such social pressures that lead to femicide and challenging them. Therefore, women’s solidarity and women’s organization should be increased, initiatives should be established and methods of struggle against patriarchal domination should be developed. First of all, we need to think globally and take concrete steps locally. The developing situations in other countries should be followed up and solidarity and common struggle should be universalized. Because femicide, which is a resultant of global oppression and its effects, also occurs on a universal scale. Whether it’s the Kurdish women kidnapped during the Anfal massacre in 1988, the female victims of the Bosnian War, or the inhumane treatment of Yazidi women and children who were abducted by the Salafist mob who call themselves the soldiers of God, what they all have in common is the local implementation of global projects. The biggest victims of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which started in the middle of Europe in 1992 and continued until 14 December 1995, were undoubtedly women and unprotected children. It was recorded as a war in which approximately 310 thousand civilians were killed, millions of people became refugees, tens of thousands of women were raped, civilians were left to starve in concentration camps and were killed en masse. Human rights activist Bakira Hasecic described the tragedy as follows: “Women were tied to beds with cables, raped and tortured” [4]. President of the Snaga Zene Association, which provides support to the victims of the Bosnian War, Dr. Branka Antić-Štauber expresses that many women who were sexually abused and raped during the war could not tell anyone about their experiences for years because of the fear of being stigmatized in the society. Dr. Antić-Štauber, who called on the women who experienced these pains to speak, said, “If the women do not talk, it is as if these crimes never happened. If it is not talked about, it is as if there is no crime or criminal” [5]. In the first quarter of the 21st century, there was a great Yazidi genocide in our geography, and we have to say that this genocide was also carried out by the peoples of the geography. It is uncanny for all of us to have such a shocking and terrifying event, but none of us can turn our backs on what happened. Therefore, we have to talk about this factual truth in chronological order, remind, confront it, even if it is uncanny and shocking. Although the massacre carried out by ISIS on 3 August 2014 was primarily against the Yazidi community, the ancient faith of our ancient geography, it still had a clear target of femicide. “In the first three days of the massacre, more than 7,500 people were killed, over 10,000 women and children were kidnapped, and over 300,000 people were displaced,” [6] says Yazidi sociologist Azad Barış. Unfortunately, not much has been done apart from the silent laments for the dead. The fate of many women who were kidnapped, detained, abused and raped and sold in slave markets in front of the eyes of the world still remains unclear. Maybe this genocide was committed against one of the most ancient peoples of our geography, but as always, this time too, the target was women. For this reason, the genocide that took place in the Yazidi homeland on August 3, 2014 is exactly a femicide. Many of us acted in a mood as if it had happened somewhere far away, however, before our eyes, a people close to our hearts and its women were the target of that massacre. “This was the truth revealed by the massacre, the genocide, but unfortunately, many of us either remained silent or could not adequately lay claim to that bitter truth” [7]. Nearly 10,000 women were kidnapped, raped and sold in slave markets. Today, the fate of nearly 3,500 women still remains uncertain and we can only guess what happened to them. “They tried to end a culture, a future and a historical people through women, because they had an important place in Yazidi culture and society. With this genocide, they intervened to break the authenticity and active will of women in society” [8]. The experiences in Shengal show us once again that patriarchal structures are trying to eliminate egalitarian and libertarian communities in the first place. Therefore, every massacre is also a continuation of gender discrimination and the very art of death of the patriarchal world. In this context, it is necessary to see the Yazidi genocide as a pogrom against women and keep it on the agenda. The Yazidi genocide occurred as a result of gender discrimination and is the latest femicide of our age that developed due to it… It is necessary to know that both the world and the regional women’s movements will be incomplete in reading the issue without this truth is brought to consciousness. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the analogy of this massacre that took place there and still continues today, to see the women’s struggle for justice and democracy and to take an active part in it. Femicide is gender-centered murders that take place more or less every day in all corners of the world, have existed for a very long time, but have increased both in intensity and visibility as women’s struggle for equality improves. Therefore, even if we consider the Yazidi femicide within the framework of genocide, it is a part of the femicide that has continued from history to the present. We can say that the Yazidi femicide, which occurred within the framework of the Yazidi genocide and in its most severe form, also caused women’s self-reflection and organization. Therefore, it is a hope that the women’s revolution that will take place in the world in our century will wave in this geography. That’s why we should always remember “those rebellious women” who climbed to Shengal Mountain. As the women’s struggle for equality, which is growing day by day, is established and strengthened, a circle that is uncomfortable with the women’s struggle is starting to make more and more noise. Policies implemented against femicide in the world, especially in Iran, Turkey and the Arab world, must have clearly disturbed the conservative, right-wing, bigoted and nostalgic circles of the Salafist period, because the extreme sectarian ISIS, which emerged on 3 August 2014 and grew rapidly, and some of the leading states of the region subjected Yazidi women to massacres by detaining, kidnapping, raping, and impregnating! Likewise, today in Turkey, a circle of bigoted religious people, supporters of patriarchal domination, right-wing and extremists, are producing new justifications for femicide by showing religious references as the femicide and the reactions against it increase. A paradigm of social awareness and principled resistance is needed more than ever before against this and similar threats.

As it is known, at the International Yazidi Women’s Conference held in Germany on March 11-12, 2017, it was emphasized that an effective international struggle should be carried out in order to liberate Yazidi women captured by ISIS gangs as soon as possible and in this context, it was decided 3rd of August to be considered as the “International Day of Action Against Femicide and Genocide.” Again, it was previously recognized as the “Yazidi Genocide” by the European Parliament, and international organizations included the massacre within the scope of “crimes against humanity” in their reports. But despite this, the Yazidi massacre has still not been condemned, far from being recognized by Turkey. We women, once again, loudly remind to declare August 3rd as the “International Day of Action Against Femicide and Genocide.” We say; the women’s struggle and resistance in Shengal inspired all women. In Shengal, woman is JIN (Life). You can never kill life.

[1] Russell, Diana E. H.; Radford, Jill (1992). Femicide: the politics of woman killing. New York Toronto: Twayne Publishers

[2] Diana E. H. Russell, Roberta A. Harmes, Femicide in Global Perspective, New York: Teachers College Press, 2001

[3] Armin Werntz. Kriegsreporter: In Syrien festgehaltener deutscher Journalist wieder frei. Spiegel Online, 6 Oktober 2013




[7] Azad Barış. Fermana Yazgılı Bir Halk: Ezdiler. Bianet, İstanbul, 24 Şubat 2016

[8] Azad Barış. Fermana Yazgılı Bir Halk: Ezdiler. Bianet, İstanbul, 24 Şubat 2016

For the original in Turkish / Yazının Türkçesi için

Translator: Gülcan Ergül

Proof-reader: Müge Karahan


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