Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements
In an extract reproduced from WRI's 2010 anthology of women conscientious objectors, Ferda Ülker, a feminist, LGBT, and antimilitarist activist, as well as one of the first women to declare herself a conscientious objector in Turkey, explains how she came to make the decision to do so in 2005, and the gender dynamics she encountered along the way. Her declaration itself is also included.
Conscientious objection has been associated with men who declare themselves conscientious objectors. The issue has been molded and defined by them, most importantly by the compulsory military service duty they face. We women saw ourselves not as agents but supporters of the struggle. As we got involved however, we started to see the crucial importance of women's inclusion in the conscientious objectors' struggle. On the other hand, it still took us a long time to find the courage to say ‘yes, here we are’. One of the reasons for this may be the militarist culture which has had its effect on us. Having been raised in this cultural environment, even when we participate in oppositional movements, we may fail to get rid of the marks of it. We get fearful as women even when we are a part of the oppositional movement's gatherings. When we come up with a claim and need to make it, we wait to make our point intact, clear enough to deny any space for discussion. But time passes while we wait.