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Entries in women's rights (124)

Sunday
Sep212014

Kurdish Women Fighters In Syria Say ISIS Fears Women Soldiers So Much They Shake

YPJ soldiers carry the casket of Evrim, a female soldier who died while fighting ISIS militants, during her funeral in Derek City, Syria. About 24 soldiers from the YPJ and the YPG, a men’s unit, were buried during the month of August in this cemetery. Family members consider it an enormous honor when their children are killed in combat, calling the soldiers “Sehid” which means “marytr” in Kurdish. A popular saying in the community is “Sehid na merin,” which means “The martyr will never die.” Image by Erin TriebIn a media world assaulted with ISIS videos and threats of yet another beheading, the most fabulous story of heroism has emerged around a group of about 7,000 young Kurdish women in Syria who have armed themselves and joined the Women’s Protection Unit, or YPJ, “which grew out of the wider Kurdish resistance movement.”

I’ve covered this story in small bullet points on Eye, but this NBC News feature of dramatic images by New York-based photographer Erin Trieb are an inspiration for our ISIS media-weary souls.

Unlike the Iraqi soldiers who ran from ISIS, the Women’s Protection Unit is fighting to keep their people safe against attacks from Bashar Assad’s government, ISIS militants and the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

YPJ recruits cry and embrace a fellow soldier who they thought had been sent to the front line. Image by Erin TriebThe BBC writes that around a third of the Syrian Kurdish force is comprised of women, who fight alongside the men, exposing themselves to all the same dangers.

“Women are the bravest fighters,” says Diren in her BBC interview, taking refuge from the scorching heat in the cool of an underground bunker.

She and three comrades are having lunch: flatbread, cheese and watermelon. Many of the fighters, like Diren, 19, are still teenagers.

“We’re not scared of anything,” she says. “We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS.”

Unintentionally, perhaps, Diren points out the greatest weakness of the ISIS fighters.

Diren says that, to the fanatics of IS, a female fighter is “haram”, anathema: a disturbing and scary sight.

“When they see a woman with a gun, they’re so afraid they begin to shake. They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men.”

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper writes today of major fighting between ISIS and the YPG fighters in the area near Kobani, Syria Turkey opened its border on Friday so that 60,000 Syrian Kurds could flee the area in a period of 24 hours. See also Kurdish fighters rush to Syria to stand with brethren against Islamic State via Haaretz.

YPJ soldiers eat a breakfast of peppers, tomatoes, cheese, flatbread and tea at their post in Til Kocer, Syria. Their meals are often modest since most of their supplies, including food, are donated by the local community. Image by Erin Trieb

 

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Berlin Photographer Karolin Klüppel's Mädchenland Captures Matrilineal Village Of Mawlynnong

Mawlynnong is a rarified place in the world. Located in jungle of the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya, just 95 houses and a population of around 500 lives as a matrilineal society on the border of Bangladesh. This small village is home to the indigenous Khasi people. As a matrilineal society, women inherit land, children take their mothers’ names, and men marry into their wives’ family homes.This social organization is striking in India, where sons are preferred without question.

The setting is also unique: lush, and so well-cared for, tourists across India visit to marvel at the lack of trash. Known also for its living root bridges, the place is now called “God’s own garden”.

The setting is also unique: lush, and so well-cared for, tourists across India visit to marvel at the lack of trash. With fines assessed for littering, residents take care of their own trash. All the residents of Mawlynnong can read and write, and their homes have a toilet.

The girls and young women of Mawlynnong attracted the attention of Berlin-based photographer Karolin Klüppel, who originally travelled to Mawlynnong to study these eco-friendly habits among the people. Last year, the German photographer traveled there to photograph the girls of the village in their homes and outdoors. In her series “Mädchenland,” or “girl-land,” Klüppel shows her subjects in classically girlish poses. She did this to highlight how adult they actually are.

In a statement sent to HuffPost, Küppel describes the inverse at play as “a completely opposite impression… namely a certain elevation of the girls above childhood, a strong self-awareness and pronounced air of self-sufficiency.”

At a very young age the children take over the responsibilities of their mother and before they turn eight they do the household chores and care for younger siblings,” she says. “Although this might seem like a limitation of childhood, I’ve never met happier or more self-confident children than in Mawlynnong.”. .

Mawlynnong, though, is a safe haven for girls, who attend the village school until the age of 11 or 12, at which age they go to stay with relatives in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, to continue their studies. After that, they decide whether to attend university or return to the village.

 

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Tuesday
Oct152013

Madonna's SecretProjectRevolution Video Is Smart Sensuality Values Personified

Anne here, having finally just grabbed 20 minutes to watch Madonna’s SECRETPROJECTREVOLUTION video in full. It’s explosive and an ultimate Smart Sensuality women statement. Madonna speaks for me in every respect: my values and beliefs, the ones expressed at AOC since 2007.

I will write a longer essay on SECRETPROJECTREVOLUTION. Feanne weighed in last week on my blog. #SECRETPROJECTREVOLUTION lauches a larger project between Madonna and photographer/director Steven Klein #ARTFORFREEDOM. This is a movement that AOC is proud to join.

More Steven Klein