Photographer Joan Alvado is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From his project ‘Kurdish Women: Inside, Outside‘.  To see Joan’s stories click on any image.


Today, Esmeray achieved to live away from marginal environments she found at her arrival in Istanbul. Now she writes columns in several newspapers, and acts as a stage actress, in a comedy based on his own life. Previously, Esmeray worked in prostitution for several years. It was almost the only work left for transsexuals in Turkey. Later, contact with the feminist and LGBT movements facilitated a change for her.


Morning prayer ( Dua ) for Sebiha. Her son went to the mountains to join the Kurdish guerrillas over 15 years ago and has not been heard from him since then. Sebiha is a member of the association “Mothers for Peace” in Diyarbakir.


Mothers and relatives of killed and missing people, who are organized in the association Mothers for Peace, concentrate every Saturday for many years in Galatasaray Square , Istanbul .


Time for a cigarette at a concentration of Mothers for Peace, in Diyarbakir. For many untrained women, political militancy is a novel way to get out to the public space. A way of empowerment and socialization beyond the roles traditionally granted to women.


The conquest of public space

In addition to the known struggle of the Kurdish people for greater autonomy, Kurdish society handles over the years an interesting alternative battle: the one hold by thousands of women in pursuit of a social change involving greater equality for women and a bigger conquest of public space.

This modernization of the role of women is not been easy in such a conservative and deeply religious society. The role of Islam, closed familiar environments, a high illiteracy and the consequent lack of job opportunities are some of the challenges still to be overcome by the new Kurdish feminism.

But there are also indicators to be optimistic: an increasing school enrollment, massive participation of women in political life, and a first generation of Kurdish women accessing modern professions.

This project raises a visual tour along the different realities of what it means being a Kurdish women in Turkey: the few remaining women of Yezidi ethnic in Viransehir; temporary workers in the cotton fields of Urfa; the first generation of children having full access to education in Batman; the activists of Mothers for Peace in Diyarbakir, or the case of Esmeray, a well-known Kurdish transgender in the city of Istanbul. Thus, this documentary work proposes a deep approach to topics like roots, religion, agriculture work, education, forced migration, political participation and the arrival to new kurdish women identities that modernize nowaday the concept of being woman and Kurdish in Turkey.


Two members of Mothers for Peace association have a rest at home, in Diyarbakir city.


Concentration of Mothers for Peace in Diyarbakir. For many people, the Mothers are a civil movement for human rights, although the Turkish government considers them part of a terrorist movement led by the Kurdish guerrillas. The detention and incarceration among women activists  is constant.


Today, prostitution is left behind and Esmeray is a well-known public figure. A politicized profile, highly respected among the Kurds, and an icon of positive improvement for the LGBT community in Turkey.


A group of young Kurdish girls, work temporary picking cotton in the province of Urfa. For many young Kurdish girls, temporary work in the fields is their unique life experience away from home. Despite the hard work, it is also a time to socialize outside the male family environment.


Primary School students in Nusaybin. The rate of illiteracy among girls Kurdish rural areas is very high. Family economic problems are the main cause of studies dropout for young Kurdish girls. In case of low income, most of the families prioritize sons to study, while daughters are often required to help them at home or in the fields at a young age.


See also:

School of Shepherds

By Joan Alvado