Fighting the Violent Patriarchy in Turkey

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Note from the LeftEast editors: The attempted rape, murder, and burning of 20-year-old university student Özgecan Aslan on Feb. 11th touched a nerve in a society where male-on-female violence has been a chronic problem. Massive demonstrations throughout Turkey followed soon after, but what will it take to stem the surge in femicide over the last decade or so?

(And an AntiNote: in a characteristic attempt to draw connections between issues and interests across movements and contexts, we would also like to emphasize evident ideological and geographical overlap between radical feminism in Turkey and the Kurdish women’s movement, which has found such striking expression in Rojava and the fight against ISIS in particular. We thus invite our hungrier readers to a second helping of Anatolian feminism, from Kurdish revolutionary scholar Dilar Dirik.)

“Women face the most extreme cases of violence when they attempt to become independent of men. The religious-conservative ideological imposition that women should behave according to their purpose of creation is the discourse that perpetuates violence against women because it encourages men to “punish” women who step outside the confines of patriarchal family.”

Mattia Gallo: Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said that women are not equal to men. This public statement is only one piece of a policy pursued by his party of conservative neoliberalism, a policy that increases precarity and poverty for men and women, and which tries to control and subordinate the role of women. What have been the effects of this policy on Turkish society since 2002, the year that brought Erdoğan’s party, AKP, to power? What are the issues that feminists have faced?

Selin Cagatay: This is not the first time that Erdoğan has stated his disagreement with gender equality. In 2010, when he was prime minister, he said, “I do not believe in the equality of men and women. I believe in equal opportunities. Men and women are different and complementary.” More strikingly, he said this at a consultation meeting with women’s NGOs, which included long-standing feminist organizations, during which he addressed women exclusively as mothers.

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