Turkish women and Gezi

There’s a great article on women in Turkey in the New York Review of Books’ blog.

Suzy Hansen gives a clear and balanced perspective on what’s been happening from the point of view of Turkish women since the AKP, Erdoan’s party, came into power, and during the protests which started three months ago (and are far from being over).

She emphasizes that at the beginning, the AKP did support some women friendly reforms:

As it happened, the first years of Erdoğan’s administration coincided with some important reforms relating to the status of women in Turkish law. Lobbying efforts by women’s rights advocates in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as a campaign coordinated by over one hundred women’s groups in 2001, led to a reform of the penal code to recognize women as individuals. Until 2005, a sexual crime against a woman was called “a crime against society,” or a “crime against public morality and the family,” rather than a crime against an individual. The new laws also criminalized marital rape and sexual harassment, increased punishment for honor killings, and reversed legal discrimination against unmarried women. Though Erdoğan had little to do with these reforms, it was he and the AKP who took credit for dramatically improving the legal status of women in Turkey.

Hansen contrasts this with the AKP’s invasion of women’s private lives in the last few years, telling women they should have three children, attempting to make all abortions illegal, making wild claims about child birth methods, and publicly denying that men and women are equal.

The Gezi protests, she claims, with its high participation of women, may bring some hope for the future of the status of women in Turkey:

Of course one risk is that, as in earlier decades, the plight of Turkish women will get lost in larger political debates about basic freedoms and rights in general. And yet the growing recognition of women’s rights among the spectrum of grievances many people have against the Turkish state suggests that the old ways may be changing.

Well worth reading. Thanks Radu.

5 thoughts on “Turkish women and Gezi

  1. “making wild claims about childbirth methods” – caution please, women around the world, including Turkish women have been and continue to protest the high rate of non-medically indicated C-sections. C-sections even if lifesaving is not a ‘natural’ birth method. The high rate of C-sections is often attributed to increased revenues to doctors performing the procedures, and viewed by many as abuse of women, while coersion and bullying of labouring women and denial of informed consent, often leads to on-going trauma, PTSD, post partum depression, and a limitation on family size and restriction of future birth choices. The women of Turkey and elsewhere in the world who are taking a stand against this form of abuse may welcome the imposition of his ‘think before you slice policy”.

  2. It’s true that there is an abuse of c- section in Turkey. Women are routinely told that their hips are too narrow or that they are too old and that they cannot give birth any other way, and the reason is often transparent – insurance and /or scheduling. But I don’t think what Erdoğan suggested was caution as much as a blanket ban. And the reason he gave – that women who have a c-section can only have one child is rather wild.

  3. “Erdoğan began denouncing Caesarean sections as “unnatural,”…” Ugh. You’d think that it would be almost universally accepted by now that whether something is ‘natural’ or not (whatever the hell that actually means) isn’t actually a very reliable indication of whether it’s good or not.

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