Ayşenur İslam

Kemal Ördek: ’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister Islam

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered.

Source: Kemal Ördek, “Su Testisi Tecavüz ve Bakan İslam’a Bir Soru” (“’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister İslam”), bianet.org, 17 July 2015, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/toplumsal-cinsiyet/166083-su-testisi-tecavuz-ve-bakan-islam-a-bir-soru

I’m writing as a rape victim.

I’m writing as a theft, threat, and insult victim.

I’m writing as a trans and as a sex worker.

I’m writing as a rights activist.

I’m writing as someone who now thinks twice before going out.

I break out in a cold sweat; I tense up. I can’t do a thing without someone by me. For the last twelve days, it is as if I’ve been under house arrest. Just yesterday, I saw one of my attackers when I was out with my friends; I simply ran back home. It is as if they are everywhere. I try to stay away from people, but they are out and about. This is what they call justice.

Özgecan comes to my mind. Everyone cried for her and mourned her loss. They took Özgecan away from us, just like with all the other women they took away from us. An otherwise silent Turkey stood up for her, took to the streets, ached, trembled. We trembled.

With Özgecan, we relived a familiar story. We remembered all the sex workers and trans people who have been raped and killed for all these years.

Just yesterday, the entire country was startled when Münevver Karabulut was murdered by decapitation. Only a week later, when a trans sex worker was found in a trash can with her head cut off, everyone who had stood up for Münevver disappeared. Trans women and sex workers were left alone in a country of murders by decapitation.

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered. In all likelihood, there would not be any reaction if I weren’t a well-known rights activist.

Trans people, sex workers, the other women, the anonymous women whose lives are tested by violence, rape, and murder are also raped by silence. In the back streets, in invisible streets, in those “deserved” lives, rape occur every night. Because those women live the lives they “deserve.” Because those who “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Because they deserve rape and death is written in their fate.

We have a Minister of Family and Social Policies, whose faint voice we hear after every case of rape and death. She is someone who disappears, becomes quiet, and shrugs when the issue is trans women and sex workers. She is someone who is complicit in the silence that rapes us…

I have a question for Minister İslam:

Dear Minister: I’m a trans and a sex worker, and I was raped. I was robbed, threatened, and insulted. I was mistreated when I called the police for protection from the violence that I suffered. One of your officers told me, “but you weren’t raped.” Another one lamented that, “this Tribe of Lot isn’t extinct yet.”

I am thankful that I am alive. What I do can’t be called living, but still. My friends advise me to look on the bright side and be thankful that I am alive.

Dear Minister: you are everybody’s minister, is that right? This “everybody” includes trans people and sex workers too, right? If your answer is yes, I ask, why are you silent about what happened to me? The investigations are ongoing and you’re still silent. If a lawsuit begins, are you going to stand by me? Are you going to get involved in it? Are you going to stand by a trans, sex worker, rights activist who was raped and brutalized?

Or am I, are we, going to be considered as people who “deserve” what happens to them? When one of us is killed tomorrow, will there be only 2-3 people to say a final goodbye? Are we, the members of the Tribe of Lot as some of you say, going to continue to be “disciplined” by violence, rape, and murder?

Dear Minister, is your silence fair? We may not be women in your eyes; we may be “immoral.” But are we not human either? Are your “conservatism” and your “religious and human values” silent in the face of violence?

I, your citizen, a trans, a sex worker, a rights activist, a victim… When were we made to be so lonely?

Dear Minister, I invite you, your Ministry, and your government to stand by me. I keep hoping for the faint possibility. If you take a step, it will send a message to rapists.

Before we die again…

Turkey’s Minister of Family sees homosexuality as a “preference”

Ayşenur İslam, the Minister of Family and Social Policy, noted that there is no statistical record of gender and “preference” in applications received by the Ministry.

Source: “Aile bakanı eşcinselliği tercih sanıyor”, (“The Minister of Family thinks homosexuality is a preference”), KaosGL.org, 29 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18593

Responding to CHP MP Mahmut Tanal’s request for information on discrimination and violence against LGBTs (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans), Minister İslam claimed that the Ministry produces “holistic social policies that target the entire society and prioritize disadvantaged segments.”

The Minister of Family does not observe international terminology

Not mentioning LGBTs in her response, the Minister of Family and Social Policy İslam used the term “preference” instead of “sexual orientation.”

Remarking that the applications received through the Ministry’s Social Support and Social Aid phone lines are processed based on the nature of the request, İslam said, “there is no statistical record regarding [the applicants’] gender and preference.”

In international documents, the term sexual orientation, which signals an unchangeable characteristic of the individual, is preferred over “sexual preference,” which implies voluntary choice.

The Protection of the Family Act ignores discrimination

Responding to the question regarding measures to make it easy for LGBTs to place complaints about domestic violence, İslam said that there is no discrimination in the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women Act.

Mahmut Tanal, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, placed two expansive requests for information covering a number of issues including policies for the social inclusion of trans individuals, the social aid allocated to LGBTs, LGBT suicides, and policies addressing the special needs of minor, teenager, senior, and disabled LGBTs.

(more…)

HDP’s Tüzel Queries Violence Against Women and LGBTI People

Source: “HDP’li Tüzel, Kadın ve LGBTİ’lere Şiddeti Sordu,” (HDP’s Tüzel Queries Violence Against Women and LGBTI People,”) kaosGL.org, 19 April 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=16373

The People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) Member of Parliament from Istanbul Levent Tüzel brought the issue of “unjust provocation reductions” applied in the murders of women and murders based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Parliament. Tüzel pressed the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Ayşenur İslam, to answer questions on the issue and noted that 61 women had lost their lives in the first 100 days of 2014 to this violence.

“Why does the state not protect women?”

Tüzel pointed out that institutions of law, judiciary, and security are not on women’s side and asked Minister İslam the role of the government’s patriarchal, conservative, neoliberal social and economic policies that deny gender equality in the rising violence and murders of women despite legal amendments. He asked, “why does the state not protect women?”

Murders Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Tüzel asked for the removal of good conduct and unjust provocation reductions [from the Turkish Criminal Code] in crimes committed against women and people with different sexual orientations. He further asked whether there are plans to consider the murders of women within the scope of “voluntary manslaughter.” Tüzün also asked if there are any legal arrangements to ensure the employment of women who are the victims of violence, and who are staying the women’s shelters, within in the public and private sector.

Tüzel asked these questions to Minister İslam:

“How much longer will the state watch as women are murdered? Why is the necessary public protection of women not ensured?

“What is the role of your government’s patriarchal, conservative, neoliberal social and economic policies that deny gender equality in the rising violence and murders of women despite legal amendments?

“How many women’s shelters are there in Turkey? In the last ten years, how many women’s shelters were opened in which cities? Are there cities and districts without women’s shelters?

“How do women who are victims of violence continue living and stay protected after their 6 month residency in women’s shelters?

“Are you considering any legal arrangements to ensure the employment of women who are the victims of violence and who are staying the women’s shelters to be employed in the public and private sector?

“Does your Ministry have any plans to provide education on social gender in schools?

“Are you considering any changes in the Turkish Criminal Code to consider the murders of women, and murders based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity within the scope of “voluntary manslaughter,” to remove unjust provocation and good conduct reductions in crimes against women, and to not include these crimes within the scope of amnesty?

“Are you making any arrangements to include women’s organizations’ participation in public trials of crimes that are based on gender?”