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.
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.