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A fighter of the Kurdish Women's Defense Units (YPJ) (FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images)


Fight against ISIS being waged “on behalf of all the women in the world”

February 29, 2016

As war rages in Syria, one region known as Rojava is actually seeing some progress for the Kurdish women who live there, the way it was always meant to be. Situated near the Turkish border and territory controlled by the extremist group, the region offers women the type of freedom that is unparalleled miles away in less stable parts of Syria. Rojava’s so-called  “social contract,” which functions like a constitution, guarantees women’s rights. The police department has a unit made up of all women and is charged with investigating sex crimes against women. Polygamy has fallen out of fashion and child marriage has been made illegal. Gender discrimination is on the decline. But not far away, life is very different for women under the rule of ISIS extremists, and that is a fact that is not lost on officials in Rojava. Nubohar Mustafa, a local politician, said in an interview with Reuters that “While we try to empower women, a few kilometers away Daesh (ISIS) are trying to do the opposite. We are fighting them on behalf of all the women in the world.”

The core tenets governing life in Rojava were originally outlined by Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the late 1970s, which is closely linked to the Kurdish militias. In fact, some of the all-female battle brigades that have been making headlines for taking the fight to ISIS are another sign of the progress in Rojava, according to Mustafa. “It’s a revolution within a revolution,” she said. But, Rojava is something of a vestige of where life was once headed in Syria. Prior to the civil war erupting in 2011, women in Syria already enjoyed a more progressive lifestyle than did women in many of the neighboring countries in the region. However, with the rise of ISIS, that progress has been largely derailed.

Read the full story at Reuters.