It may well be conjectured that the life of Fatma Emin changed forever, after her husband was killed by the ISIS in a land mine explosion in Syria. And after experiencing a series of events, she arrived in Jinwar – a village in the autonomous region of north-eastern Syria near the Turkish border!
A couple of years ago, the Kurdish women built Jinwar. The village has been built and inhabited only by women – a refuge for Syrian women and their children fleeing a rigid family structure, domestic abuse and the horrors of Civil War. In Kurdish language, ‘Jinwar’ means ‘Women’s Land’! Fatma, along with her children, has taken shelter there…
In Fatma’s words: “Jinwar welcomes Syrian women and children, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity and political views, and also allows them to enjoy freedom, democracy and a new form of life…” “Jinwar is a response to every person who thinks of violating a woman’s freedom, or sees the woman as the weaker sex in the society, or that she can’t manage her life or manage her children,” she stressed. Fatma further said: “On the contrary, a woman can build her house. Here we are – we built a village not only for Kurdish women, but we have Arab, we have Yazidi and some of our foreign friends are also living with us.”
After her husband’s demise in August 2015, the 35-year-old widow had to fight against her in-laws to keep six children with her. Her in-laws didn’t want Fatma to work. However, she refused to give up the government job in Kobani. “The people that I was mixing with did not value this and refused to accept me as a ‘strong working’ woman, or raising my kids by myself after my husband’s death,” said Fatma, adding: “I worked at the (Kurdish) administration and I was good and excelling at my work.” She also thanked profusely a Kurdish Women’s Movement Group for helping her in finding a shelter in Jinwar!
Jinwar women chose to open the village on November 25, which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
In Jinwar, visitors would find brown, rectangular houses made up of handmade bricks! Although the houses look dry and parched from outside, they are highly decorated in the inside. Currently, 16 women and 32 children live in this village, where Men are allowed to visit in the day only if they behave respectfully towards Women…and, Men cannot spend the night there. Working in shifts, the Women keep monitoring the movements of visitors in Jinwar, and, they carry weapons during the night shift for security purposes!
Jiyan Efrin is Fatma’s neighbour in Jinwar. The 30-year-old stays there with her two daughters and a son… they had arrived in the village from Afrin three months ago to escape a Turkish assault. According to Jiyan, life is beautiful in Jinwar. “You feel like there is a normal society that you can live in. We work, we farm and get paid, too, from the village council,” she said.
Syrian women in Jinwar rely on each other for farming and planting their own food
Many of the women, living in Jinwar, are either victims of rape, or have escaped death penalty issued by the ISIS. “In the war conditions that we have been through, every woman suffered. Every woman was hurt. Every woman was lost, but Jinwar brought them together,” stressed Jiyan.
The children of Jinwar attend the village school
Still, they are wary, as the village is situated near the Syria-Turkey border! Turkey might attack the village any time because the Turks don’t like the Kurds, backed by the US. The Turkish-Kurdish conflict is a decades old one! The Kurds, naturally, want to carve out a State of their own in Kurdish-majority areas of Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The villagers believe that the Kurds will protect them in case of Turkish aggression. The Women in Jinwar also receive arms training, as they do not want to lose the war after fighting their way to this far…
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