On February 6, 2023, two major earthquakes centered in Kahramanmaraş occurred. The earthquakes were felt strongly in the provinces of Antep, Maraş, Adana, Hatay, Amed, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Kilis, Malatya and Urfa. After the first earthquake, which struck during the night, some areas were practically destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people trapped under the rubble waiting to be rescued.
People who were still alive under the rubble died of cold or asphyxiation. Those who made it out of collapsed buildings had to listen helplessly as their loved ones cried for help under the debris. Those who were able to dig out their relatives with their own hands could not save them because they did not know what medical intervention was needed.
During the first three days, there was not enough rescue work in city centers, towns and villages, and some places received no support at all. Officially, 44,218 people have died, while thousands of bodies trapped in buildings have yet to be recovered.
Tens of thousands of lives that could have been saved were tragically lost due to state incompetence. This regime cannot provide even the most basic right to shelter and life. Once again, we see clearly that the capitalist state governs for the rich. While workers and the poor are fighting for their lives, the capitalists are planning how to make more money from the earthquake’s devastation.
3 Weeks After the Earthquake
It has been three weeks since the earthquakes and there are still not enough tents and blankets. For people in the earthquake zones, living conditions will be very difficult for a long time. There are many places where seven or eight families are living in a single tent. Since the vast majority are without tents, they are trying to live in cars or in makeshift tents they set up with their own means.
Moral stigmas and prejudices have made it so that women living alone and LGBTQI+ people were doubly victimized after the earthquake. They have minimal access to aid and are ostracized. Discrimination against refugees also manifests itself in this way. The reactionary segments of society place the people to receive help in a hierarchical order. At the bottom of are women living alone, LGBTQI+ persons and refugees.
Unmarried women, transgender women, or women who are “notorious” in the neighborhood are not accepted into tents, even if everyone in their neighborhood has lost their homes. Even if they are accepted, they cannot get rid of the looks that blame and despise them.
The earthquake created more difficult conditions for women than for men. In many neighborhoods, there were no buildings left to live in and people had to migrate to different cities. Women who were working before the earthquake will find it more difficult to find employment than men in the cities they migrated to with nothing.
After the earthquake, women who were ashamed to ask for pads and underwear preferred to remain silent despite their urgent needs. Again, the learned moral rules of the society tied women’s hands and tongues in this respect.
Since clean water is not available in many areas, bathing and dishwashing needs are met from the water that has accumulated on the streets. It is a woman who carries the water from the streets to her family… Because women are responsible for the washing up, even if their houses have been destroyed and they are staying in tents.
Another problem is violence and harassment. Women and children who have lost their homes and families are more exposed to male violence. Women and children with nowhere to go struggle to protect their bodies while staying with ex-husbands, relatives and sometimes strangers.
Likewise, religious sects take advantage of the situation by taking vulnerable children and women into their houses. The government, which allows Sharia organization, remains silent on this abuse despite the social reaction.
Hope is in Organization, Social Mobilization
In the aftermath of the disaster in Turkey, we once again witnessed the immense power when people mobilize. Without a response from the state, people came to each other’s aid. Despite the magnitude of this solidarity, the marginalized segments of society were once again left alone.
Let’s grow the solidarity to include women, LGBTQI+ and refugees. The war against reactionary ideologies is a war for humanity.