'You too can succeed', says Berivan Elif Kılıç

The BDP is continuing its election campaign in the Karaz (Kocaköy) district of Amed province.
Berivan Elif Kılıç, the co-mayoral candidate in Karaz, is seen as an example for women in the region. For years she suffered violence at the hands of her husband. Berivan Elif Kılıç told us about her life.

'They married me off at 16'

Kılıç, who said she had become a candidate in order to represent women, and that they wanted to govern the district together with women, explained the turning points in her life thus: "When I was 15 I was engaged to my maternal cousin. At 16 I was married and at 17 I was a mother. I got a divorce when I was 28. I have 2 children and for 5 years I have been living with my family."
Kılıç said that her life had not been easy, and that she had had to wage a tough struggle to survive, adding that her life changed when she was taken out of school and married off.

'I encountered societal pressure'

"While married I suffered 13 years of physical and psychological torture," said Kılıç, adding that her children had also suffered this. She said she had put up with it for a timer on account of worrying what others would say and for fear of gossip. Although I was kicked out every month my father would take me back because of societal pressure. It was like living in a prison. But one day I stood up to my family and said 'either you accept my decision or you won't see me again'. When my family realised I was determined they understood."

'I learned to defend my rights'

Kılıç said that many people had a dim view of divorced women, adding: "I had to resist the courts, the police, those around me and my family. It's quite acceptable for people to get divorced." She said she had custody of her children and that she had had her sick child treated. Kılıç said: "When I cried for my child I cried for other children too. When I was beaten I also struggled for other women who are victims of domestic violence. They told me: 'your mother was beaten, your granny was beaten, you'll be beaten too.' They accepted this as their fate, but I said to women: 'defend your rights'. They also tried to exploit Islam, saying men have more rights than women in the Moslem religion. They said men can beat their wives and make them stay at home. They said: 'we can't allow women to have a divorce.' Islam is a religion of mercy and conscience, not of oppression. I could not accept my spouse oppressing me. After gaining my rights I have tried to be an example for women."
Kılıç said she had opened a shop in order to make ends meet and had become politically active in the BDP two months ago. "I have succeeded. You, too, can succeed. Perhaps I cannot change a person's life by myself but all together we can change women's lives. That's why I'm here. I'm prepared to do whatever it takes."

'We will march together'

Berivan Elif Kılıç said that in the event of being elected mayor she would make the municipality the first address for women to go, adding: "We are going house to house. I say: 'I am someone who understands you'. As Nasrettin Hoca said: 'bring me the one who fell off the donkey'. Only someone who has been beaten can understand another woman in the same situation. I can really help them. They say to me: 'you've succeeded and you'll do lots of things for us'. My first aim in the elections is education. I want to provide women with information about their rights and a general education. Women teach children and will make them aware. Until the next election a whole group of women around me will say 'we have succeeded!' We will march together on the basis of democratic autonomy."
Kılıç said she wished to set up a women's market, as women produced many handicrafts which they could only sell to their neighbours, and that this would provide women with an opportunity for employment.