Thursday, July 21, 2016

More On The Future of Women's Rights in Turkey



The first signs do not look good:

Reports of sexual harassment and violence against women have also increased since Friday. One woman tweeted that a man threatened her sexually while asking for a cigarette.
Another said that she was approached by a stranger in the subway who consecutively told her not to wear a dress. Yet another one was told to conceal her cleavage by a man who drove his car toward her at high speeds. A young woman tweeted that people celebrating the government’s survival after the overthrow attempt shouted at her as they drove by: "Bitches, you too will get what you deserve!"
“Conflicting environments, such as war or military coups, always increase violence and discrimination against women” says Selen Dogan, the chairman of the feminist group U├žan Supurge (Flying Broom). She explains that “these conflicts involve militarism, nationalism and religious motivations, all of which negate demands for freedom, equality and non-violence.”

Erdogan began as an Islamist, then appeared to have moderated his views, but now it just might be the case that he has returned to his radical roots (or never really left them but just bided his time).  He certainly appears to take advantage of the failed coup as an opportunity for a purge.  The vast numbers of people he has fired or arrested simply cannot all have been found to be guilty of plotting the coup in just a day or two or three.  Lists must have existed prior to the most recent events.

The purge could result in increasing Islamist power in the government, and that is very bad news for women's rights. 

A few earlier signs point in the same direction, such as the recent removal of the requirement that religious marriages only be conducted after a civil marriage has taken place.  This makes polygamous marriages, including child marriages with Syrian refugee children, less likely to be prosecuted, but also leaves second, third and fourth wives without any real financial security.

It's important that people outside Turkey protest any losses of women's rights in that country.  It may not matter to Erdogan, but it matters to the more secular women in Turkey, the ones who don't accept a presumed divine interpretation of them as an inferior species.

----

I write on these topics not because I want to sow depression among my readers, but because it's important that someone does.