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Zozan Ozgokce

Zozan Ozgokce

HRD, Founder
Van Kadin Dernegi (VAKAD)

We do not have to adapt to the military mentality. Instead, we have to change the mentality of the society, and the basic strategy to bring about these changes is solidarity.

Zozan Ozgokce is a Kurdish feminist activist and human rights defender. For the past 15 years, she has been working to advance women’s rights, challenging the violent environment where she grew up. In 2004, together with six other women, she founded Van Kadin Dernegi (Van Women's Association, VAKAD),  to give legal and psychological support to women victims of  violence. VAKAD also organises trainings, carries out research on women's rights and gender issues, raises awareness on these topics and engages in advocacy activities. The organisation is based in Van, a predominantly Kurdish town in south-eastern Turkey.

Human rights defenders in Turkey have been subjected to harassment, threats, surveillance, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, judicial harassment including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, prolonged arbitrary detention and ill-treatment. Women human rights defenders are particularly targeted: in 2011, Turkey became the first country to sign the Council of Europe Convention on violence against women. Yet, advancements in the legislation have not been matched by positive changes in women’s daily life.