Since ISIS began to spew venom in Syria and parts of Iraq, a growing number of rebel armies came up in order to fight against the atrocities of the self-proclaimed caliphate. One such army is the Yekineyen Parastina Jin or Women Protection units (YPJ). This unit is an all female, independent militia which is helping the People’s protection units to fight against ISIS. One brave fighter who is believed to have killed at least 100 ISIS fighters is known by the name Rehana.
Rehana became a public figure while fighting for the border city of Kobane (or Kobani) in Syria against ISIS. The picture of her holding up the peace sign was re-tweeted 5000 times last year. Although reports claimed that the fighter had since been killed and beheaded by the ISIS, close friends have clarified that she successfully escaped the hellhole in Kobani. She is a trained assassin and has been fighting ISIS to protect her city.
Many journalists who have been in close contact with Rehana have quashed the rumors that she has single-handedly killed 100 ISIS fighters. But many still believe that it is being done to save her from becoming a target against a very strong ISIS army.
Since she became a symbol of Kurdish resistance, almost 10,000 women warriors have joined the YJP making it possible to push back ISIS in the border city. The stories of bravery of women fighters are not new to this town though. Last year Arin Mirkan blew herself up near Kobani killing 10 ISIS militants and saving a village from complete devastation.
The ‘girls with guns’ as they are often called by the English media are true inspiration of how women can play an active role in confronting traditional gender expectations in a region wrought with death and destruction.