multiply through raising awareness…
The first draft of this edition was published in 2007 on the 10th anniversary of KAMER. The draft was used, evaluated, criticized and suggestions were made by many women’s organizations. We have prepared the publication again by putting on what we have gained during this process.
Since 1997, KAMER has been supporting thousands of women through the Emergency Support Line. We had decided to build an Emergency Help Line based on the needs identified before KAMER was established.
Based on the observations made before KAMER’s establishment, our assessment on “violence against women” were as follows: “We, women, regardless of where we live and our social, economic and educational characteristics, were subjected to violence. Some of us were aware of the violence we were subjected to, some of us weren’t. Most of us accepted violence as a natural outcome of womanhood.”
Two practices came out of this assessment.
The first practice:
Activities to question our traditional perceptions, to gain awareness on our secondary status in the society, to develop strength and methods to change it.
We found out that “Awareness Raising Group Workshops” are the best method for this progress. Awareness raising groups have been running since 1996, before KAMER was founded, and are still ongoing extensively.
Through these workshops we overcame the loneliness and the feeling of shame caused by being subjected to violence. We gained awareness that we had to be empowered in every aspect in order to stand up against violence.
Our second practice:
While struggling to free ourselves from violence, we felt the need for a women’s organization where women can get support.
To satisfy this need, we started operating the “Emergency Help Line”. After a while, we determined that what we were doing was not “helping” each other but providing “support.”The relation between one who is helping and one who is helped could have jeopardized the relationship we were dreaming of establishing between two equals. None of us were “saved.” As a result of this awareness, we changed the name “Emergency Help Line” to “Emergency Support Centers.”
Women who become aware and decide to free themselves from the violence in their lives can apply for this service for emergency support, which has been active since December 1997.
Actually when we established KAMER in August 1997, we had no knowledge and experience. To learn; we researched a lot, worked hard, and discussed a lot.
On December 1, 1997, the first woman knocked on KAMER’s door to get support to free herself from the violence she was experiencing. Th ere were three more applications on that same day. Support applications have been increasing everyday ever since.
We started each dialogue knowing the limitations and importance of the work we are doing.
What we should be doing was “sharing the awareness we had and building solidarity.” We would be overcoming loneliness and shame; we would be empowered by sharing and solidarity.
While standing next to the women who needed our support, we also tried to formulate “KAMER’s methods for standing up against violence”.
We received important contributions from many organizations and individuals in developing these methods. We learned new things through our collaborations with each one of them. We built on this knowledge with our experiences, we shared, discussed and evaluated. We have learned and developed more with each sharing. We have developed a working method with which we got good results.
We never perceived ourselves as actors who can completely resolve the women’s issue.
This is how we perceived our role:
“On the way to gender equality, pointing out women’s issues from different aspects, putting them on the agenda, developing methods for their resolution, and sharing the methods we developed.”
We know how prevalent violence is.
We know that unless the feelings of shame and despair associated with the violence we are subjected to are shared, there cannot be a further step.
We know that we will be multiplied in numbers by sharing our awareness.
We shared our experience of awareness groups with everyone who requested. This sharing resulted in the establishment of 23 KAMER Women’s Centers in 23 different provinces. In addition, gender equality movement gained momentum in ten other provinces in different regions of Turkey through the sharing of this method.
With this publication we again want to share the methods we have developed while struggling to free ourselves from violence. With hopes that we will continue to multiply through sharing…