Article: Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) Co-chair Ilham Ehmed
The women of Raqqa have suffered greatly in the last five years. It was not just the ISIS cruelty. ISIS itself is a product of the barbaric mindset the statist capital system causes. It was The Man who took everything in his own hands and put himself to the center of life and led to the emergence of such vile organizations. They attacked women every day and commodified them, literally buying and selling their bodies. But before ISIS, the central government wasn’t so far off in their approach and policies towards women. Women were robbed of their significance. They forced women to wear black and tell them that is the only color for them, they don’t deserve the rest.
From the emergence of ISIS and women becoming targets, from women’s massacres and women’s commodification, these policies are all trampling the values of freedom. They say ISIS members are afraid to die by women’s hands in battle. It would somehow prevent them from being accepted into Jannah. What is interesting is that such a peculiar idea emerged in the 21st century. At a time when humanity talks about freedom, democracy and human rights, this ISIS-like culture is a reaction against cultural social values. They have pushed humanity back thousands of years. So many women from Manbij, Tabqa and Raqqa were beheaded - they were beheaded just because a couple strands of their hair was showing. They have also turned their homes into spaces to rob women of their will.
We did assume women suffered a lot in Raqqa, but when we saw women greet the Syrian Democratic Forces after we launched the liberation operation we understood that their hearts were so heavy. Let’s remember one Raqqan woman who said, “Why are you late? We have been waiting for you to rescue us for so long, the people of Raqqa were excited waiting for you but you were late.” Her eyes were filled with tears of joy and her heart beat with the love of freedom. I watched this on television. 2 months later I saw that woman in a meeting. She is now a co-head of several villages and is organizing people. After their villages were liberated, women said, “We didn’t know what to do, we considered going outside or not, but nobody said anything when we did.” It was like the women were frozen. They were terrorized due to the pressure.
Like women carried out a social revolution in Manbij, women are carrying out a new social revolution in Raqqa as well. It is fascinating to watch. The most important thing is, the women are genuinely in love with freedom, and they want to push forward and break their own chains. If there are people who want to help, they should see this demand by the women first. Because society is liberated through women’s freedom. With the emancipation maneuver, women have started to organize themselves. They formed their councils and their own centers in Tabqa. They opened women’s homes in some places. These institutions have always been important and have solved women’s problems. In these centers women educate themselves. They strengthen their will. They prepare themselves better for life.
We can easily say this: The regime used women for their own interests, and the opposition did the same. There were a few women who worked with them, but they didn’t include them in their schemes when it didn’t suit their interests, disgracing them. Everybody wants to silence women. Nobody wants women to become a force of will. To that end, they constantly view women as “house wives” they can oppress. This is the true picture of the opposition that set out claiming to change the regime.
The experience that was created in Northern Syria has proven that it is the one to have a project for women, only one to bring women together and emancipate them. This is a rare sight in the world. Some say, “The emancipation of Arab women is too arduous.” That is true, nothing is without a cost. It takes sacrifice and it takes knowledge. We believe that women are on the right path and that they are advancing forward. This will continue. There was one woman in Raqqa. There are examples of these individual women who resist on their own. This woman was told “the SDF are pigs”, and she told them it was them who were pigs. These are real examples. The names of these women must go down in history.