On February 6, we woke up to a disastrous earthquake that caused serious destruction in 10 cities in Turkey. According to the official figures, so far over 46.000 people lost their lives under the rubble and the figures keep increasing. We are well aware that the liability for the heavy damage does not fall on the earthquake but on the negligence and the greed for unearned income. Though we live in a country that is geographically prone to high earthquake risk and has already had previous experience with many hazardous earthquakes, necessary precautions were not taken. What we recently experienced was the demolition caused by profit-oriented urbanization and an urban development disregarding all scientific advice. We are outraged by the state, the sole party responsible for this preventable demolition!
What we witnessed in the aftermath of the quakes also demonstrated the inadequacy and negligence of the state in responding to disasters. The contemporary organization of the state that discounts science and merit has been very late in responding to the emergency in the rubble and failed to coordinate the response efforts. As no search and rescue teams were sent to many areas for days, many people died calling for help under the rubble. On top of this, the state also hampered civil solidarity efforts by blocking access to social media and declaring a state of emergency. They attempted to criminalize social solidarity. Today, after a month has passed since the first earthquake, access to basic needs such as water, shelter, and food remains an urgent issue in the earthquake-stricken zone.
Since the first day, we have known that the impact of the earthquake on women would be a multilayered one and it didn’t take long before we were proven right. Women are left without a way out against the risk of violence and their hygiene needs are grossly overlooked by the state. Caregiving and chores in the tents have become millstones around women’s necks. The fate of many unattended children who survived the earthquake is still unknown. And it was revealed that many of these children were given into the custody of radical Islamist organizations rather than being taken under state custody and that some of them were sexually assaulted in the hospitals. We also witness the discrimination against Syrian refugees in the distribution of aid for earthquake victims.
As women and LGBT+ people, we were neither surprised by this destruction nor by the recklessness of the state. We all have firsthand knowledge of how human life can be deemed worthless. We have firsthand experience of the destructiveness of patriarchal capitalism. We know it well from the fact that the state has never undertaken any preventive and coordinated efforts against gender-based violence, and has kept exercising impunity for men committing violence while leaving women without a way out. We recognize it from the targeting of LGBT+ people, and the attempts to legitimize child marriages.
During these times, we once again see that our emancipation is only possible through feminist struggle and solidarity. As feminists from Turkey, we engage in solidarity to counter the multilayered impacts of the earthquake on women and LGBT+ people and reinstitute daily life. In the meantime, we know that our emancipation will not take place until we build a feminist world that is equal and free for all. The devastation we experienced has once again shown us how vital feminist solidarity is. We call upon all the feminists around the world to join forces with us and build this solidarity together.
This year, we welcome March 8 under such conditions. And we know that the state, which is utterly absent when it comes to preventing gender-based violence and sexual assaults, penalizing the perpetrators, ensuring the right to life, right to shelter, and access to food and hygiene for the people in earthquake-stricken areas, will mobilize all its resources in an attempt to prevent the 21st Feminist Night March to be held on March 8 International Women’s Day. Yet, just like every other year, we will be together on the streets once again, hand in hand; we will be marching the streets against homophobia, transphobia, racism, labor exploitation, and the destruction wrought by patriarchal capitalism. We will never give up on our fight, our lives, each other, and our inspiration to build a feminist world together!
We are outraged. We are grieving. We are here. And we are here to stay!
We, the feminists, revolt against patriarchal capitalist destruction!