AUDE OSNOWYCZ - 2SERIES
Lens Magazine|October 2021
WOMEN FIGHTERS IN SYRIA UKRAINE: A YOUTH BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE

Young Kurds in their twenties who joined the YPG (Kurdish armed forces). They take care of the control of one of the many checkpoints on the road leading from the town of Qamishlo to that of Derik.

Aude Osnowycz © All rights reserved.

The Kurdish people, known for their independence demands, have particularly distinguished themselves in the fight against Daesh. The capture of Raqqa in 2017, the capital of Daesh, was a symbol of this. At the heart of this struggle, women have always occupied a place. In support of combatants or arms in hand, they have decided to establish themselves as a recourse against the obscurantism of Daesh in order to rebuild, on the ashes of the Caliphate, a peaceful and equal society.

In the midst of chaos, the women of peace are on all fronts and are looking to the future. By arms or not, Kurdish women have always taken part in combat. Participating in the care of the wounded or supplying the forces engaged, some have chosen to take up arms.

In the 1960s, Margaret George Shello, a Christian peshmerga nicknamed the mother of Kurdistan, distinguished herself in the fight against the Iraqi government.

Oil fields around the town of Derik. The area controlled by the Syrian Kurds has many oil fields, making it a highly strategic area. Aude Osnowycz © All rights reserved.

Gülnaz Karatas became an icon of the Kurdish feminist struggle by throwing herself off a cliff to avoid being captured ... In their wake, female combatants from Rojava, a Syrian autonomous region, took part in the fight alongside the men. Initially integrated into the male units (YPG), female units were later established, such as the women's defense units (YPJ).

The fighting that is taking place is of the order of guerrilla warfare; it does not require any particular physical force, says Sandrine Alexie of the Kurdish Institute in Paris. Women, therefore, fulfill the same missions as men. They even have a reputation for making better snipers because they are more patient. Beyond their ability to fight, Kurdish women have a powerful mental impact on Daesh fighters. They fear the death received at the hands of a woman, the ultimate torture. Against Daesh, Kurdish women are therefore a weapon of terror accompanied by wide-ranging communication, capable of shaping the legend.

Fights and a commitment are highlighted by many artists. The song Revolution performed by the Kurdish singer Helly Luv presents, in her video, the fight of Kurdish women against the Islamic State by displaying the slogan stop the violence to the sound of Brothers and sisters we all come from one.

A popular campaign to promote the committed action of female combatants in the service of the reconstruction of a more peaceful and egalitarian post-war society. The end of the fighting means a return to civilian life for these women, who must then face new daily challenges. A return is often synonymous with precariousness for these women who have nevertheless acquired legitimacy in combat.

Kurdish rebel in Derik Aude Osnowycz © All rights reserved.

Beyond the issue of armed combat and the Hollywood image of the female combatant, the war has left its mark on these Kurdish women. Many of them left their studies and their families to engage in the war against ISIS. Following the end of the fighting, many suffer from a lack of perspective for the future. Social misery, economic dependence on men, physical mutilation, psychological suffering: the result of war is disastrous and often obscured by a combatant image, times a biased image of the combatant. says Seve Aydin Izouli, a lawyer at the Paris bar association, President of the Damascus-France declaration.

Kurdish flag flying in front of the premises of the PDKS, one of the main Kurdish parties (there are 16 in all) linked to Barzani's Iraqi Kurdish party, the PDK, one of the two parties controlling Iraqi Kurdistan. The great rival of the PDKS in Syria being the PYD on which the YPG (Kurdish armed forces.

Aude Osnowycz © All rights reserved.

These setbacks of the war thus pushed women to continue the fight, a peaceful fight in favor of the acquisition of new rights, which also led them to take an active part in the country's reconstruction.

On the strength of their acquired legitimacy as combatants, Kurdish women were able to obtain new political responsibilities. Things had changed since the 1990s when in Iraq, for example, Kurdish women occupied only 6 of the 105 parliamentary seats in the Kurdish regional parliament. […] today, quotas are in place. Women are thus well represented in parliamentary assemblies. In the regional parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan, one-third of the 111 seats are reserved for women. After 2008, in the government of Iraqi Kurdistan, there were 3 women out of 42 ministers; 40% of the elected representatives of Kongra-Gel (the Kurdish People's Congress, parliament of the KCK, pro-PKK) are women, and the presidency of certain political bodies can be attributed to women, explains Mélanie Dubuy, lecturer at the University of Lorraine. Many women have reached leadership positions, including Ilham Ahmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, Pervin Buldan, co-chair of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), Vana Farid, provisional chair of the parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan or again Bayan Sami Abdul Al Rahman, Ambassador of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the United States.

Serekanié (Ras el Ain), Jiha, 21, YPG fighter, she was assigned to the last checkpoint leading from the town of Qamishlo to that of Serekanié (Ras el Ain), this check was the scene of many clashes between various armed forces. The city of Ras El Ain has been undergoing for weeks a guerrilla war between the forces of the Free Syrian Army, the Islamist forces of Jabat el Nasra, more or less ... Aude Osnowycz © All rights reserved.

They are present in number at the head of political parties and administrations. This would not have been possible without the legitimacy gained in combat over decades. Emphasizes Seve Aydin Izouli. Other women distinguished themselves not in politics but in diplomacy in order to influence the reconstruction and peace processes, like Colonel Nahida Rachid, who became a diplomat after her military career and her participation in the fighting over the years, and then against Daesh more recently. Peace and reconstruction require a balance of responsibilities and respect for half of the population. Therefore, a change in mentality is vital but also very complex in an environment dominated by men and a culture in which women are hardly considered.


Leila Mustapha, the new mayor of Raqqa, must assert herself as a Kurd and as a woman. An engineer by training, she participates in changing attitudes to build a more egalitarian society.

Under Daesh and before, under the Damascus regime, women and minorities were deeply discriminated against. It's not that easy to change mentalities, she explains. It won't come overnight. Changing mentalities will take years. And to conclude: If the woman is fulfilled in her responsibilities and her rights are respected, her family is happy, society is doing well and the country is enriched. says Leila Mustapha.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM LENS MAGAZINEView All

SMALL INTIMATE MOMENTS

PHOTOGRAPHY OFFERS ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE WORLD WHILE I ALSO FLOATING OUTSIDE IT. WHEN I AM IMMERSED IN MAKING CANDID PHOTOGRAPHS, I SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY MOMENTS THAT I WOULD OTHERWISE MISS." - REBECCA ROTHEY

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

THE CAMERA'S EYE

I have had the incredibly good fortune to learn photography and life lessons from many of the most influential photographers in the history of the medium.

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

HOPE

As countries slowly start to open up their borders, travel is beginning to bounce back.

5 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

HAUNTING PORTRAITS Joe Buergi

The "Haunting Portraits" series focuses on the hard workers of Bangladesh. They work either in the docks, shipyards, or as laborers in the brick factories outside Dhaka. In 2020 I visited different places and portrayed the workers photographically.

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH QUIM FÀBREGAS

THE CHILDHOOD OF THE BAKA PYGMIES The childhood of the Baka pygmies is a photographic report made in the jungle of Cameroon. This report exhibits the childhood life of the pygmies, their freedom, their way of spending hours in the middle of nature, and the toughness of living in a habitat that rains for many months of the year, and It's extremely tough to get food. You can see the faces of the happy and cheerful children, but you can also see the hardness of the mothers.

7 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

TERRITORY OF ABSENCES ALMIR BINDILATTI

ART MARKET

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

An Exclusive Interview With MANFRED BAUMANN

My grandfather had won many photo competitions; he dealt with artistic b/w photography. We grew up in the mountains of Austria, and his work later reminded me a lot of Ansel Adams' landscapes artistic style. He gave me my first camera, a Praktika 1000, and I still have it. Without him, I might never have gotten into photography!

8 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

Hieronymus Grabstein – Monumentum

Our brain is organized so that it analyses and memorizes visual information faster than any text. A spectator is always curious to see what is left outside the camera’s view. There is hardly a better way to tell stories of people’s lives other than via visual imagery. Handicraft– from the beginning and up to the end of each operation. It is not an automated process but significant experience, expertise, and a bit of spontaneity and freedom of artistic creativity.

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
October 2021

Fares Micue – An ultimate message of Positivism

I always try to isolate as many details as I can from the final image I want to create, like that I able to get to a more accurate representation of the image in my head.

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
October 2021

AUDE OSNOWYCZ - 2SERIES

WOMEN FIGHTERS IN SYRIA UKRAINE: A YOUTH BETWEEN WAR AND PEACE

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

Hands

The mortar landed close, maybe two hundred meters away.

3 mins read
World Literature Today
Summer 2020

Syria Kurds launch security sweep, arrests in Daesh camp

Kurdish forces made dozens of arrests in a security operation launched in a camp for suspected family members of Daesh in northeast Syria, said a war monitor and Kurdish officials

3 mins read
Gulf Today
March 29, 2021

Daesh attack kills many in Iraq

Iraqis react as they make their way through a flooded street in Sadr City

2 mins read
Gulf Today
November 23, 2020

Afghan VP vows to track down attackers

CHILDREN WARM THEMSELVES UP AROUND A CHARCOAL FIRE IN HERAT

2 mins read
Gulf Today
November 23, 2020

Almost 30 Dead As Syria Govt Forces Clash With Daesh

Intermittent fighting, mostly in the Badia, has killed more than 900 regime rebels and 140 allied Iran-backed fighters since March, as well as almost 500 Daesh, said Observatory

3 mins read
Gulf Today
October 28, 2020

Crash and burn

American occupation saga in West Asia has finally approached another tipping point with the killing of Soleimani, their latest misadventure in the region

4 mins read
Millennium Post Delhi
January 07, 2020

India And The West Asian Wars

The realpolitik, religion and proxy conflicts of West Asia are a policy challenge India must navigate deftly.

7 mins read
India Today
January 16, 2017

The UNSC resolution: A Chance For Peace

The UNSC resolution on Syria takes into account the ground realities in the region, but Western leaders persist with their contradictory statements.

7 mins read
FRONTLINE
January 22, 2016