Inability to speak Turkish bars Kurdish women from cancer services in Diyarbakir



Nov 28, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

The majority of women living in the outskirts of the Kurdish province of Amed (Diyarbakir) in southeast Turkey were unable to benefit from cancer-related services in 2022 because they could not speak Turkish, revealed a health syndicate this week.

Yildiz Ok Orak, head of the Amed branch of the Health and Social Service Workers’ Syndicate (SES), told the pro-Kurdish Jin TV on Saturday that they conducted a survey in 2022, interviewing 347 elderly Kurdish women living in the province’s countryside. 

The women, aged over 40, were asked if they could benefit from state health centers dedicated to cancer diagnosis.

 Fifty-eight percent of them said they could not  benefit from them because they could not speak Turkish.

 They were forced to go with family members who could translate for them. 

In these conservative areas, it’s expected for males to be the ones accompanying the women of their family in a similar situation, which in turn often makes the women uncomfortable, preventing them from speaking freely to the doctors. 

Orak said they postponed the publication of the survey, which has yet to occur, due to the February quakes in Turkey which killed over 50,000 people and devastated over ten provinces. 

She noted that 58 of the interviewed women said that they had never heard that such cancer diagnosis centres existed. 

The Kurdish language is banned in public settings in Turkey. The government provides some services in Arabic for Syrian refugees but millions of Kurds are prohibited from speaking in their mother tongue in public places. 

Last year, Turkish authorities put an information board at the entrance of the Great Mosque of Diyarbakir in English, Turkish, Russian and Arabic. The absence of Kurdish language angered Kurds.

Kurdish words were removed from a sign on the road to Diyarbakir airport in 2018.