Turkey

Pursuant to a month of heated discussions, Turkish government stated that they will not amend the existing laws on abortion in Turkey and restricted their changes to the subject of making caesar sections more difficult to implement. Social media whirled about a few days, press immediately forgot about the issue, but the snake never slept.

TO THE POLICIES OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY THAT TARGET GENDER EQUALITY, WOMEN'S BODIES, REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, AND SEXUALITY, OUR RESPONSE IS A RESOUNDING "NO!"

We demand that the process to ban abortion be ceased IMMEDIATELY!

Banning abortion or further limiting the duration and conditions under which it can be performed;

Un collectif d’associations turques a lancé sur internet la pétition « Say no Abortion ban », « Dites non à l’interdiction de l’avortement ».

En Turquie, l’avortement est légal depuis 1983 jusqu’à 10 semaines de grossesse. Déplorant que le taux de fécondité soit passé de 3,14 enfants par femme en 1980 à 2,11 en 2009, le Premier ministre turc Erdogan incite les couples à avoir « au moins trois enfants ».

Gokce, a soft-spoken 37-year-old mother of two, has lived on the run for 15 years, ever since her abusive husband tracked her down, broke down her door and shot her in the leg six times after she refused to return to him.

The Kurdish ethnic group historically inhabited Kurdistan, an area now divided between the modern states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.  Kurds form about 20% of Turkey’s population. Since the formation of the state of Turkey, Kurds in Turkey have faced marginalization  and suppression of their cultural identity and a very severe assimilation policy. In 1984 the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) launched an armed uprising against the Turkish state demanding an independent Kurdish homeland.

A campaign to make Istanbul's roughly 3,100 mosques more welcoming for women could set off a gender revolution in Turkey's places of Islamic worship - and one that may not be uniformly welcomed.

"This is about mosques being a space for women," declared Kadriye Avci Erdemli, Istanbul's deputy mufti, the city's second most powerful administrator of the Islamic faith. "When a woman enters a mosque, she is entering the house of God and she should experience the same sacred treatment. In front of God, men and women are equal; they have the same rights to practice their religion."

Roj Women’s Association has just published its last Annual Activities Report that maps out the organization’s campaigning and community work from April 2010 until March 2011. Field research in Kurdish regions of the world, community research among the Kurdish Diaspora, lobbying meetings at British, European and United Nations forums, grassroots groups capacity-building, seminars for university students and communities, to mention a few, are the activities that materialize a wider strategy that seeks to improve the lives of women in Kurdish regions and communities of the world.

In a recent summary report of their campaign for an effective implementation of the National Action Plan to combat violence against women Roj Women explain why they believe the Turkish Plan is failing to deliver its goals. In South East Turkey 1 out of 2 women are victims of violence against women. The national average is 39%. In a context of social and economic development neglect, pervasive patriarchal attitudes and militarization all contribute to high rates of violence against women in the region.

On 18 July 2010, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a consultation  meeting with women’s non-governmental organisations in the context of the ‘Democratic Initiative and National Unity and Brotherhood Project’, also dubbed ‘the Kurdish Initiative in the popular press.  This initiative aims to resolve the conflict that has plagued the South-east of the country, pitting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against the Turkish military. The PM addressed the women in attendance as mothers “whose voices would drown out the sounds of bullets” – thus enlisting them to the cause of peace. Among the 80-odd attendees were members of NGOs with established feminist credentials such as KA-DER and theFoundation for Women’s Solidarity, among others. This goes some way towards explaining why some participants took the PM to task during the question period for addressing them exclusively as mothers, overlooking the fact that they are fully fledged economic, political and juridical personae. It is at this point that the PM apparently interjected: ‘I do not believe in the equality of men and women. I believe in equal opportunities. Men and women are different and complementary’.

Control and Sexuality by Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Vanja Hamzić examines zina laws in some Muslim contexts and communities in order to explore connections between the criminalisation of sexuality, gender-based violence and women’s rights activism. The Violence is Not Our Culture Campaign and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network present this comparative study and feminist analysis of zina laws as a contribution to the broader objective of ending violence in the name of ‘culture’. Attached is the whole book, available for download for free. Please do consider making a donation to WLUML.

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