As Peshmerga, it is my duty to go to war, but it is not the duty of civilians, said Colonel Nahida Ahmad Rashid. Yet even civilians are so disturbed by ISISthey are raping women, degrading the value of women, brutally killing peoplethey want to do something to stop them. Adding to their inspiration is a widely held rumor that the radical fighters believe that if killed by a woman they will not go to paradise. Though disputed by experts, it is the gospel among the women of Colonel Rashid’s regiment.
One woman known as Ozlem, a longtime fighter with a Kurdish guerrilla group, was sent to defend Makhmour, a town where some 12,000 Kurds had taken refugee. Ozlem, whose nom de guerre means “to be missed,” eagerly left to confront the enemy — the radical Islamic group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
In firefights with bearded, black-clad men, she came close enough to notice they were fighting in sandals and seemed apparently unconcerned with death.
Ozlem and other women who were part of the battle say they took special pleasure in fighting the notorious radicals whose barbarism, especially towards women, has left a scuttlebutt trail in every town they have taken.
In the fighting force, as many as 40 percent are women, who undergo the same combat training as men, with a supplementary course on women in war, according to commanders. Gender equality is a fundamental feature of the PKK, which was founded as a Marxist-leaning organization.
While women of the PKK and its affiliate in Syria—the YPG, another gender-mixed force that has been fighting the Islamic State in the Kurdish region of Syria for three years—see far more action than women in other Kurdish armed groups, the eagerness to confront ISIS is all the same. See more…