Secret Slavery of Armenian Women

This paper aims to give a detailed summary of the topic, state its key issue that’s important to gender for women history and gives a discussion of weakness and strength of the article. Also, the paper includes three questions raised and subsequently, gives my opinion on its significance to women in history.

Called the “Young Turks”, the Ottoman Empire that ended in 1923 and whose propaganda, massacre and atrocities formed the basis of Suzanne Khardalian’s documentaries “Grandma’s Tattoos” and “Back to Ararat”, is gauged to have claimed more than 1.5 million lives in the present-day Turkey. The atrocities were fueled by what they saw as wiping out Armenians who were on the Russia’s side during the World War 1 and ethnic cleansing of both the Christian Armenians and Muslim Armenians in the region. When she learnt that her grandmother, whom they referred to as “Grandma Khanoum” was one of the surviving victims and knew of the meaning of her grandmother’s face and fingers tattoos that she had long thought were “devilish”, it was like a bombshell to Khardalian. Khardalian’s grandmother had no affection and had a phobia of being touched (Phillips, 2012). Grandma Khanoum soothed her passed that was filled with inhumane atrocities by listening to romantic songs playing on radio. There has been no description of the females who in their thousands underwent abduction, rape and forcefully made prostitutes and concubines.

A strength of the article is that it has told a story of what has been in wraps for a long time and barely told and painted a grim picture of the inhumane experiences that the Armenians were subjected to by the “Young Turks”. It also explains the life-changing events that happened on unfortunate Armenian’s, who never chose to be born Armenians, and how their experiences were life-long.

The article raises three questions. One of the question is, to what extent and how much traumatising were the propaganda, massacres and atrocities by the “Young Turks” such that like “Grandma Khanoum”, it left the victims emotionally anguished very many years after the events had ceased to exist? The second question; Khardalian never understood her grandmother and despite the fact that fact she learnt from outside sources about her grandmother’s fate, “Grandma Khanoum” never at a single time narrated her ordeal on the hands of the “Young Turks”. This leaves us one wondering, had [all] the women victims lost confidence in all persons, even those that were harmless, such that they couldn’t confide in them? The third question; “Grandma Khanoum” married her husband so that she could avoid the Turkish men exploiting her. This thus implies that men could offer life security, yet, the “Young Turks” were wiping out the Armenians. Does this mean that the wiping out of the women was equivalent to wiping out the Armenians? Did the women bore the blunt of the ethnic cleansing?
In my opinion, the so-called Armenian genocide was really a substitute for Armenian women genocide. This is because in the article, except where the Armenians are generalized as Armenian Christians and Muslims being wiped by “Young Turks”, never is anywhere in the article stated that Armenian men were specifically targeted. To prop up this opinion, “Grandma Khanoum” is said to have sought solace in Farid al-Atrash’s romantic songs on radio but “her husband…hated her infatuation with the singer.” This implies that while “Grandma Khanoum” used the romantic music to sooth her past, her husband hadn’t any probably because his woes were never similar to those of her wife. To wrap it all up, women, as described by the events, bore the blunt of the Armenian genocide.

Phillips, L.A. (2012). WNN Reviews. Retrieved on March 15, 2012 from

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