Women in a Positive and Negative Perspective in Kurdish Culture - Part 1

Avin Taifour

Oral narration is such a foundation that the Kurds have used for thousands of years to preserve their land, culture, language, and literature. Based on traditions and culture, humans have narrated their stories, poems, biographies, games, and old sayings to their new generations and have left these for them as a heritage.

Through oral narration, the Kurdish people have retailed their war and struggle stories, their hardships, and experiences of their lives in their homes during the night. Sometimes they have cried for these stories, sometimes they have laughed and sometimes they have expressed their anger with them. Kurds have mentioned women in their culture in various ways. They have mentioned women in positive and negative ways. Women did not encounter positive or negative viewpoints in the past.

Figure: The South part of Kurdistan, Gustav Wallen, 1940 _ 1950

Our mothers, without knowing they were encroaching on us, have continued this culture and have carried it out for us taking care of us with this negative and impaired culture. Not knowing these positive and negative aspects and how much of this culture is right or wrong we have accepted it and we will transfer it to the next generations.

In these stories and old sayings, tyranny, injustice, beating, staying at home, and stopping talking with women have been accepted. Women always regarded themselves less than men not being able to go anywhere without men. Those women who tried to resist this injustice and attempted to encounter such hardships and enslavement were severely tortured and some of them even got killed.

In the past and even now, women are deprived of their basic rights. Their voices will be silenced, they should not let their hair out because it is a sign of dishonor. Women's commuting and education are not normal. And above all these, when a girl is born, the family acts like they have a funeral at home. The girls' names would not be mentioned in public and they would not be praised. However, on the contrary, when a boy is born to a family, that household will hold a cheerful party for a week in honor of their newly born son. They would sacrifice a lamb or donate money.

There are some old sayings about these Kurdish cultural features negatively talking about women. Some of them are:

A house full of women shall be destroyed completely.

A man who does not beat his daughter must regret it.

A shy woman is worth a lot, a shy man is not worth a shirt.

Where your wife is from, you are from that place, too.

A good wife makes the house beautiful.

Women say: We wish we could live only one day, but we could be a good man's wife.

As we see women have positive and negative roles in the Kurdish old sayings. Of course, these sayings have been said for some particular occasions and some particular times that were tied to that special time and circumstance. However, it does not mean that we should not talk about those points, because a part of Kurdish culture needs to be criticized. The future generations must identify themselves with a healthy culture.

To be continued…

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