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.
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.
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.