Girls take care of added burdens of Turkey’s quake catastrophe

 A lady stands among the many rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay on March 6, 2023, one month after an enormous earthquake struck southeastern Turkey. A large 7.8-magnitude earthquake rocked large swathes of Turkey and components of Syria on February 6, 2023. —AFP 

ANTAKYA: The cabinets of the makeshift clinic – little greater than an orange storage container – provide every part ladies are too shy to ask for on the streets of Turkey’s quake zone.

From underwear to interval and contraception merchandise, physician Meltem Gunbegi reconnects ladies with the fundamentals they really feel uncomfortable discussing within the crowds of mass help distribution centres.

She additionally gives a receptive ear, serving to the ladies of southern Turkey’s destroyed metropolis of Antakya to begin processing the grief and demise they’ve been subjected to previously month.

The toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake now stands at greater than 46,000 in Turkey and at practically 6,000 in Syria, making it one of many world’s 10 deadliest of the previous 100 years.

A prime United Nations official mentioned on Tuesday that the injury alone amounted to greater than $100 billion, with more money wanted for restoration prices.

“Many are shy with regards to asking for fundamentals, corresponding to bras, wax bands and tweezers, so they arrive and go to our container,” mentioned the 33-year-old physician.

Extra ladies are having genital points due to poor hygiene circumstances within the tent cities throughout the 11 quake-hit provinces, Gunbegi mentioned.

However she additionally sees ladies who’re clearly nonetheless in shock and too traumatised to begin fascinated with their very own our bodies — even when they’re pregnant.

“They skilled lots of demise and destruction,” mentioned the physician. “They actually don’t appear to consider the infant. They’re in a state of trauma.”

Semire Duman, 51, an earthquake survivor who has been dwelling in a tent for a month, mentioned ladies have lots of wants.

“We’ve got no bathe, no rest room, no water, nothing,” she informed AFP, after which nearly whispered: “We don’t have underwear.”

Gazele Sumer, 57, complained of a scarcity of privateness in tents.

“We’re six folks in a single tent,” she mentioned. “We sit right here, we eat there, we sleep right here,” she added.


Selver Buyukkeles, an earthquake survivor who works with the Mor (Purple) Solidarity, mentioned ladies bore the brunt of every day burdens — corresponding to doing chores and taking good care of household — even earlier than the February 6 quake.

Now, they’re making an attempt to do the identical whereas coping with private ache and an acute sense of insecurity that comes with life out on the streets.

“Girls queue to get meals at distribution centres. They cook dinner, and so they care for the youngsters and the aged. They do the dishes. They do the laundry,” the 28-year-old mentioned.

“Girls really feel answerable for their household’s state of affairs. They concern a brand new earthquake and the communal life in tents makes them insecure,” she mentioned.

At this stage, activists and medical doctors interviewed by AFP haven’t noticed extra circumstances of home violence or abuse, regardless of Turkey’s poor document on the problem.

Fidan Ataselim, secretary common of the We Will Cease Femicide Platform, has known as for “secure shelters” and “prevention centres” to be arrange for girls in broken areas.

We Will Cease Femicide publicises the homicide and abuse of ladies within the largely Muslim however formally secular state.

In 2022, not less than 327 ladies had been killed and 793 injured, in line with information compiled by the platform.

‘Secure zone’

Again at Antakya’s Dostluk (Friendship) park, not removed from Gunbegi’s makeshift clinic, volunteers work in shifts ensuring that some 200 ladies sheltering in dozens of tents are secure.

Others are conserving vigil outdoors bathrooms and bathe cabins.

“Secure zone for girls and LGBT+ right here,” proclaims posters in Turkish and Arabic.

The Arabic is a nod to the thousands and thousands of refugees and migrants who’ve been dwelling throughout stretches of southern Turkey for the reason that begin of the civil struggle in neighbouring Syria 12 years in the past.

“We’ve got a safety system for each ladies and LGBT+, who’re extra susceptible in such disasters,” mentioned Aslihan Keles, 23, one of many volunteers within the park.

Turkish ladies usually be part of marches on March 8 — the official Worldwide Girls’s Day — demanding higher lives and safety in opposition to home violence.

However this yr, issues are completely different within the quake zone, Keles mentioned.

“Right here, there may be an emergency,” she mentioned. “This time, we’re within the area — however for an excellent trigger.”

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