The plight of the women of Afrin

A 20-year-old Kurdish woman has committed suicide in Afrin. The mother of one child originally came from the Yazidi village of Basûtê in Sherawa and last lived in the center of the occupied city.

A Kurdish woman is said to have committed suicide by hanging herself in her home in Afrin. ANHA news agency based in Rojava said that the woman was 20-year-old Aisha Mohammad Khaled. She was found dead in her home on Friday.

The mother of one child was born in the village of Basûtê in Shêrawa. Most recently, according to the information available, she lived in the neighbourhood of Mehmûdiyê in the center of Afrin. Basûtê is about twelve kilometers south of Afrin. Up until three and a half years ago, around 3,000 people lived there, and a large part of the village population was made up of Yazidis. It is not known how many residents have stayed inside since the Turkish invasion.

A source close to Aisha Mohammad Khaled told ANHA that the young woman was feeling very depressed and under pressure because of the occupation and the Sharia rules that have been in force since the invasion of Afrin. So far there are no indications of the whereabouts of her child and husband. Khaled is at least the sixth woman in Afrin to have committed suicide since the beginning of last year.

ISIS methods in Afrin

For a long time, Afrin was considered the only peaceful region in Syria. The Turkish army, together with Islamist militias, launched the invasion of the region on 20 January 2018, which led to the occupation of the entire canton on 18 March and hundreds of thousands of people to flee. The remaining population, and women in particular, have since been exposed to Islamic State-like methods. Women have to veil themselves, they are kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed.

83 Afrin women murdered in 18 months

According to a report by the human rights organization Rêxistina Mafên Mirovan li Efrînê, between January 2020 and July 2021 at least 83 women in the region were murdered by the occupying forces or died in connection with the occupation. 200 more were abducted. According to human rights activist Naile Mehmûd, five women took their own lives to avoid falling into the hands of the mercenaries. During the same period, 216 cases of wounds and injuries to women in attacks by occupation militias were recorded.

1,200 women missing

“We have documented 70 rape cases. In the first six months of this year alone, 25 women were kidnapped. Among them are minors such as 13-year-old Aliye Adnan Cuma and six-year-old Rûya Mehmûd Xatir. Emine Mistefa, another kidnapped woman, is 60 years old,” said Mehmûd.

Since the occupation of Afrin, 1,200 women are considered to have "disappeared", and more than 1,000 women have been murdered. At least 99 abducted women are either in prisons in the illegal occupation zone or in custody in Turkey.