After surviving ISIS and a civil war, these Syrian women built a female-only village
Updated 12:25 AM ET, Sat May 4, 2019
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(CNN)Fatma Emin's life changed forever when her husband died in the Syrian war, killed by ISIS in a land mine attack.
It triggered a series of events that would bring her to Jinwar, a village built and inhabited by women -- a refuge for Syrian women and their children fleeing a rigid family structure, domestic abuse and the horrors of civil war.
Jinwar means "women's land" in the Kurdish language. The village welcomes Syrian women and children, regardless of religion, ethnicity and political views. It is a mosaic of diverse women who want to experience freedom, democracy and a new form of life.
"Jinwar is a response to every person who thinks of violating a woman's freedom, or sees the woman as the weaker sex in the society, or that she can't manage her life or manage her children," Emin told CNN by phone in Arabic. "On the contrary, a woman can build her house. Here we are -- we built a village not only for Kurdish women, but we have Arab, we have Yazidi and some of our foreign friends are also living with us."
After Emin's husband died in August 2015, the stigma of being a widow weighed heavily on her.
The 35-year-old had to fight to keep her six children -- her husband's family repeatedly took them away from her, she said. They didn't want her to work, and demanded she give up a job she loved in Kobani's local government to raise her daughters under the family's supervision. She says they viewed her and her children as weak, with no man left to protect them.