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 for 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!”
The water cannons and rubber bullets hail around them, while Hande Kader’s words drown out the rattling from the journalists’ camera lenses. The police attack is sudden and brutal on the ones who had dared to take to the streets, even though the event had been banned by the authorities.
Hande is battered by the water cannons. Her eyes are filled with rage and tears while she is yelling at the journalists. The photos of her and her brave words make this young transgender woman and sex worker known around the world. She is not letting herself be bullied by the brutality of the Turkish regime. At that time, nobody knows that she only has one year, and thirty-nine days left to live.
Europe’s most dangerous country
On 12 August 2016:
On 12 August 2016, Hande’s body is found; raped, mutilated and burnt. She had not been home for several days. A friend started searching the city morgues, hoping not to find her. She was last seen when she entered a customer’s car in the centre of the city. That was the last time her friends saw her, before that one day in August. The police looked away, refusing to acknowledge that she has been killed because she is a profiled transwoman, a well-known critic of the regime and a public face of the LGBTI community.
Hande is one of 51 transgender persons killed in Turkey since 2008. Turkey is Europe’s most dangerous country for transgender persons, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring project, which documents transphobic murders worldwide. Many of the murder victims are sex workers, like Hande. Turkey is among the countries with the least developed legislation for LGBTI-persons, according to the umbrella organization for European LGBTI organizations, “ILGA Europe”, 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, to get much needed help to adapt biological gender to match one’s gender identity.
Living like this is life-threatening.
R.I.P – #rest in power
Istanbul 21 August 2016:
A few days after Hande’s murder, hundreds took to the streets in Istanbul, to demonstrate. Turkey’s LGBTI community is exhausted and has had enough of violence, threats and political terror. They are filled with despair and provoked by the brutal violence Hande was subjected to and the half-hearted investigation carried out by the police.
The hashtag #HandeKadereSesVer, translated as “Give Hande Kader a voice” echoes Hande’s own words from one year and some forty days ago. Given the fact that Hande’s story has ended, makes it even more important to convey her message. Hande, #rest in power – but nobody believes that Hande will rest in peace, as her death is not something that can be laid to rest, #rest in peace.
“Transphobic people say they are afraid of trans persons, when in fact they are the ones posing a danger to transgender people”, one person says on Twitter.
“How can raping and burning a transgender person be considered more acceptable than being transgender”? another asks.
The answer should be self-evident, but it is not.
At least 3314 transpersons killed since 2008
20 November, every year:
The Trans Murder Monitoring project monitors the murder of transgender persons worldwide. Their names are published in connection with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November. Several hundred names are remembered every year, across the world. Since the project started in 2008 and until 2019, 3314 transgendered persons have been killed. The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a memorial as well as a day of warning – who will not survive the coming year? The number of victims increases every year.
You’re taking pictures, but you’re not publishing them. Nobody can hear our voices!
Transphobic attitudes and legislation are among the greatest human rights challenges in Europe today. The need for recognition of gender identity is met with demands of forced sterilization and admission to psychiatric clinics, loss of parental rights and mandatory divorce when changing one’s legal gender. In addition, transpersons are facing murder, violence, stigma and marginalization. Brave trans activists are fighting for their right to be themselves, but too often are they fighting alone.
Therefore, it is so important to speak out Hande’s words, because she no longer can – ##HandeKadereSesVer – Give voice to Hande Kader. Hande criticised journalists for not telling what they saw. So we should listen very carefully to her story.