This article is a part of the campaign #12 Women on the Barricades, developed by The Norwegian Helsinki Committee in collaboration with illustrator Jenny Jordahl. We present 12 portraits of women standing on the barricades of other women, focusing on the greatest human rights challenges facing women in Europe today – and what needs to be done to overcome them. Read about the 11 other women on www.nhc.no/en/12womenonthebarricades
Istanbul Pride 28 June 2015:
“You’re taking pictures, but you’re not publishing them. Nobody can hear our voices!”
Hande Kader’s words drown out the clattering from the journalists’ camera lenses, while water cannons and rubber bullets fall like hail around them. The police attack on those who had dared to take to the streets after the authorities had banned the event, is sudden and brutal.
Hande is hit by the water cannons, her eyes fill with rage and tears, she’s yelling at the journalists. The photos and her words make her instantly known all over the world, as the young transgender woman and sex worker who won’t let herself be bullied by the brutality of the Turkish regime. People still don’t know that she only has one year, and thirty-nine days left to live.
Europe’s most dangerous country
On 12 August 2016:
Hande is found killed, raped, mutilated and burnt. After she didn’t return home for several days, a friend started searching the city morgues, hoping not to find her. She was last seen as she entered the car of a customer downtown. The door closing behind her was the last thing her friends saw, before that day in August at the morgue. The police look away. They do not pursue a line of investigation that Hande has been killed, because she is a transwoman. Because she is profiled, recognizable, a critic of the regime and one of those who gives a face to the LGBT community.
Hande is one of 51 transgender persons killed in Turkey since 2008, Europe’s most dangerous country for transgender persons, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring project, which documents transphobic murders around the world. Many of the people who are killed are sex workers, like Hande. According to the umbrella organization for European LGBTI-organizations, ILGA Europe, Turkey is among the countries with the least developed legislation for LGBTI-persons, and both hate motivated violence and threats are common. The sex industry has proven to be one of few available ways to make a living, and to be able to afford life-necessary procedures to adapt biological gender to match one’s gender identity.
And living like this is mortally dangerous.
R.I.P – #rest in power
Istanbul 21 August 2016:
Hundreds take to the streets in Istanbul, only a few days after Hande’s murder. Turkey’s LGBTI community is exhausted and has had enough of violence, threats and political terror. The brutal violence Hande was subjected to and the half-hearted investigation carried out by the police, is provoking and saddening.
The hashtag #HandeKadereSesVer, translated as “Give Hande Kader a voice” becomes a hollow echo of Hande’s own words from one year and some forty days before. Knowing that Hande’s own story is over, makes it even more important to relay what she said. Hande, #rest in power – nobody believes that Hande will rest in peace. Her death is not something you can lay to rest, #rest in peace.
“Transphobic people say they are afraid of transgender persons, when in fact they are the ones posing a danger to transgender persons”, one person says on Twitter.
“How can raping and burning a transgender person be considered more acceptable than being transgender?” another says.
The answer should be self-evident, but isn’t.
Minst 2982 transpersoner drept siden 2008
20 November, every year:
The Trans Murder Monitoring project monitors the murder of transgender persons all over the world, and the names are publicized in connection with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November. All over the world, several hundred names are remembered every year. 2982 transgender persons have been killed since the project started in 2008. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is both a memorial and a warning – who will not survive the coming year? The number increases annually.
You’re taking pictures, but you’re not publishing them. Nobody can hear our voices!
Transphobic attitudes and legislation are among the biggest human rights challenges in Europe today. In addition to murder and violence, the need for recognition of gender identity is met with demands of forced sterilization and committal to psychiatric clinics, loss of parental rights and compulsory divorce when changing one’s legal gender, stigma and marginalization. Brave trans activists are fighting for the right to be yourself, and far too often, they are fighting alone.
This is why Hande’s words, and to speak out because she no longer can – #GiHandeKaderEnStemme, is so important. Hande criticised journalists for not describing what they were seeing. Let’s listen very closely to what is being said.