Customary and religious laws and
practices are often used as tools to control women's sexuality and to maintain
the imbalance of power in sexual relations. This paper describes customary and
religious laws and beliefs, and their impact on the situation of both rural and
urban women in Eastern Turkey, based on a study among 599 women from the region,
most of whom are or have been married.
has a secular system of government and operates nominally as a democracy. It is
currently seeking membership in the European Community (EC) and has already
become part of EC customs unity agreements. Many new laws have recently been
introduced in Turkey, including a new national health service and laws that will
increase penalties for rape and domestic violence.
promising changes, many marginalized groups including ethnic, religious, and
sexual minorities, continue to be denied their rights.
Three important changes in English
law in the past quarter of a century have opened the doors of the English
matrimonial Courts to Muslim spouses resident in England. Prior to 1973, the
English Courts exercised divorce jurisdiction on the basis of domicile; spouses
resident but not domiciled in England could not invoke the jurisdiction of the
English Court to terminate their marriage.
The custom of arranged marriages is
generally endorsed by South Asian communities of all religious affiliations. The
system may have some advantages if due regard is given to the wishes and
preferences of the intended spouses, and if dowry considerations do not turn the
exercise into a commercial transaction — both very big “ifs.” It is the ugly
side of arranged marriages that has made headlines in the British and American
press several times in recent years.
Women are the hidden
factor in the politics of ethnicity in the Muslim communities of Northern
England. The broader context to the apparent silence of women lies in a matrix
of patriarchy and imperial experience, as well as the impact of Orientalism on
contemporary European culture. In other words, there is a culturally embedded
assumption that women should know their place, colonial peoples should know
their place, and oriental women are too ethereal to have a place at all.
In late eighties, with the
consolidation of nationalism as the state ideology in Serbia, the propaganda
directed against women grew stronger. It is well known that in periods of acute
crisis, economic repression or marked repression, women are called to turn back
to "home and family"; they are referred to as "the angels of the home earth", as
ideal mothers, as faithful wives… Such propaganda, among other things, aims at
postponing or preventing social tensions, outburst of social discontent caused
by mass lay-offs of working men and women.
In many ways, it is possible to say that feminism has erupted onto the Turkish political scene in
the latter half of the 1980’s. Since 1983, a number of publications and public
meetings organised by feminists have already made an impact on political and
intellectual circles in Istanbul and Ankara (cf. Tekeli 1986 and forthcoming).
The general public heard of these women on two separate occasions.