Thorns in My Eye 
WDR Television, arte and TVE Spain
60 min., FRG 1997

In this documentary film, a Kurdish woman lawyer accuses the government of Turkey, which has forcibly evacuated or destroyed about 3,000 Kurdish villages, killed approximately 30,000 people, and forced millions of Kurds to flee to other parts of the country. These are statistics compiled by the Turkish human rights organization IHD, whose chairperson is the Istanbul-based lawyer Eren Keskin. Ms. Keskin's main concern is with Kurdish women, who are specifically victimized by the military struggle officially waged by the Turkish government against the guerrilla troops of the PKK. This military struggle fills the lives of the people living in the Kurdish regions of southeast Anatolia with fear, violence and insecurity. In every war, women are treated like the spoils, according to Eren Keskin.

In Turkey, Kurdish women are subjected to a particular form of torture and humiliation: rape in prison or police custody. The aim is to destroy not only the women's individual identities but also the Kurdish national identity. Ms. Keskin represents Kurdish women who accuse their torturers in court. These are still difficult legal proceedings, and they are rare because the victims are reluctant to go public. Because of the archaic moral values of this patriarchal Islamic society, rape is a strong taboo which is hushed up even by the victim’s own family members. Thus girls and women who are raped are victimized twice: once by the rapist and a second time – just as painfully – by their own families, who deny them support and may even blame them for what has happened to them. Ms. Keskin helps them to break the silence about this shamefully hidden side of Kurdish women’s life in Turkey. For months the filmmakers accompanied the renowned Kurdish human rights activist and lawyer, who operates a counseling center for women who have been raped in police custody. The result is a stunning film that is a dramatic plea for human dignity.

Awards/festivals: Odyssey Special Jury Prize, Interfilmfestival, Nuremberg (2000); nominated three times for the Prix Europa; participation in the International Human Rights Film Festival Nuremberg, Exile Film Festival, Göteborg, Sweden, and Festival Media Nord-Sud, Geneva.