HDP women’s committee starts campaign against sexism in parliament

The women’s council of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing party with majority Kurdish support, has initiated a signature campaign against sexist and threatening remarks towards female opposition politicians, the Bianet news website reported.

According to the women’s council the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been fueling sexism by targeting female politicians with hate speech in the parliament. The women’s council said not only was the government ineffective in preventing increasing violence towards women in society, it was also participating in this violence and othering within its own ranks.

“HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan and Dilan Dirayet, the former spokesperson of the women’s committee, have been targets of hate speech. The mother of imprisoned opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş was also a victim of sexist remarks and threats,” said the women’s committee.

The committee said that previously sexism and hate speech were very indirect and subtle; however, deputies from the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have recently been openly targeting opposition deputies with racist and sexist speech.

“Not only are female politicians being targeted, but their families, too! They [ruling party politicians] think they can subdue us with these threats, but we will stand strong against patriarchy,” said the committee.

The women’s committee demanded that male deputies of the ruling party be careful with their words and to stop spreading sexism and racism. They added that while female politicians were working to ensure a safer country for women and eradicate gender discrimination, some male politicians were reinforcing discrimination with their words and actions.

Last year Başak Demirtaş, the wife of Selahattin Demirtaş, was targeted on social media with sexist and racist posts. The women’s committee said the ruling party had a huge role in the incident as it had continuously depicted Demirtaş and other HDP deputies as the enemy.

Opposition deputy Meral Akşener from the Iyi Party was thrown women’s clothing and shoes by a group of a hundred men during a rally in 2019. The Association for Supporting Female Political Candidates (KADER) said this was a sexist attack and was a terrible example of what female politicians faced.

According to KADER politics is often perceived as a “masculine space” and a space of power, not service. They added that this was why male politicians and men in general can’t tolerate seeing women in politics.

The HDP women’s committee said it was impossible to combat femicide, domestic violence and gender discrimination if they could not solve sexism in politics and if male politicians from the ruling party refused to see the problem.

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