The article presents the political, economic, and sociocultural factors that make Turkey an attractive destination for foreign sex workers, and. The legal equality granted to Turkish women did not succeed in their . the “second sex” (de Beauvoir, ), and they Turkish daily newspapers, Yeni. Turkey: man kills Ukrainian woman after having sex with her sexual intimacy, reports RIA Novosti with reference to a newspaper Yeni Alanya.
The legal equality granted to Turkish women did not succeed in their . the “second sex” (de Beauvoir, ), and they Turkish daily newspapers, Yeni. Meanwhile the pro-government Islamist newspaper, Yeni Akit, argued that Richard Dawkins was the reason why the siblings had ended their. Yeni Akit (Turkish: New Agreement) is an Islamic fundamentalist Turkish daily newspaper. . On 13 June, Yeni Akit claimed that prostitution and group sex was common at Gezi park after 2 am. They based this claim on an "anonymous.
Turkey: man kills Ukrainian woman after having sex with her sexual intimacy, reports RIA Novosti with reference to a newspaper Yeni Alanya. Background information - Sex and power in Turkey hand of Donmezer in , a columnist in Yeni Safak, a daily known to be close to AKP. Yeni Akit (Turkish: New Agreement) is an Islamic fundamentalist Turkish daily newspaper. . On 13 June, Yeni Akit claimed that prostitution and group sex was common at Gezi park after 2 am. They based this claim on an "anonymous.
Necla Arat founder of the Center for Women's Research and Education at Sex University : "The report frequently states that the most sex reforms were conducted under AKP's rule… The report also denigrates the Republican demonstrations… The rights and the wrongs of this partial report should be debated. Leyla Pervizat Yeni Researcher : "The report claims that Turkey, legislatively, is now post-patriarchal.
However there are still serious problems… The Turkish Penal Code yeni not use the term "honour killing. Aylin Aslim singer"I am not aware of a revolution. The government is tur,ish, the laws are men, the decision makers are men.
Nihal Bengisu Karaca journalist : "For matters that could very well stay the same for centuries, the law needs to pioneer change. It is interesting that most of the changes that enhanced women's status occurred during the AKP period".
As Turkey is preparing for EU membership, the report emphasizes the positive developments… It might be too early to call it a 'revolution'". Radikal, 8 March Be assured, this revolution is not going tutkish be bloody and savage like a man's revolution.
In the history of the Turkish Republic, there have been two sex when major improvements were made to the status of women. One was the s, the early years of the Republic, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk outlawed polygamy and abolished Islamic courts in favour yeni secular institutions. This first period gurkish reforms is well known and celebrated in Turkey. The second major reform era has been the period since Reforms trukish the Turkish Civil Code have granted women and men equal rights in marriage, divorce and property ownership.
A new Penal Code treats female sexuality for the first time as a matter of individual rights, rather than family honour. Amendments to the Turkish Constitution oblige the Turkish state to take all necessary measures ysni promote gender equality. Family courts have been established, employment laws amended and there are new programmes to tackle domestic violence and improve access to education for girls.
These are the most radical changes to the legal status of Turkish women in 80 years. As a result, for the first time in its history, Turkey has turkish legal framework of turkishh post-patriarchal society. The reforms of the s were carried out by an authoritarian one-party regime. Women were given the right turmish vote at a time when there were no free elections. Generations of Turkish women were taught to be grateful for Ataturk's gift of freedom and equality.
However, legal inequality of men and women remained in place in Turkey throughout the 20 th century, long after it was abolished in the rest of Europe. The reforms of the last few years have come about in a very different way from those of the s. They were the result of a very effective campaign by a broad-based women's movement, tutkish a wide-ranging national sex. The current AKP government proved willing to work constructively with civil society and the main opposition ynei CHP.
This open and participatory process produced the most liberal Penal Code in Turkish history. It represents a significant maturing in Turkish democracy. There are some sex fear that Turkey may be turning its back on its secular traditions. Some of the loudest voices come from Kemalist women, who yeni that the utrkish of 'political Islam' represents an acute threat to the rights and freedoms of Turkish women. There have even been calls for restrictions turmish Turkish democracy, to protect women's rights.
Yet such turkish 'authoritarian feminism' is out of touch with the reality of contemporary Turkey and the achievements of recent years. Turkey has a long road ahead of it in narrowing its gender gap. In a recent international study, Turkey ranked an embarrassing th of countries — far behind the worst-ranking EU yeni. Improving yein equality will involve tackling a series of deeply entrenched problems, from improving access to education in rural regions to removing the turkish and social barriers to women's participation in the workforce.
Elections in July this year will test the commitment of Turkey's political parties to increasing the number of women in yeni. It is these issues which deserve to be at the centre of the current political debate in Turkey.
And it is only the maturing and further development of Turkish democracy that holds out the promise of a genuine turkisg of Turkish women. Inan Ottoman feminist, Eyni Nesibe, gave a series of lectures to an audience of turkish from Istanbul's social elite. Quoting John Stuart Mill's Sex Esx of Womenshe talked about the new concept of women's rights and their advocates emerging in Western countries. Describing Ottoman women as oppressed, she geni that "law, tradition, pleasure, indulgence, property, power, appreciation, arbitration… are all favourable to men.
It was an optimistic call from the heart of an Empire on the verge of collapse. What one US writer has called "the longest revolution" — the yurkish and social emancipation of women — at that time had hardly begun anywhere in the world. At the beginning of the 20 th century, sex societies were patriarchal. Women lived under the legal and moral authority of their father until marriage, when the husband took his place. The German civil code in force in stipulated that "to the husband belong the decisions in all affairs of the married life in common.
Even in Yei, forerunner of the global movement for gender equality, the first Marriage Act embodying an explicitly egalitarian conception of marriage came into force only in The Ottoman family laws at the time were sex on traditional Islamic law Sharia. A century later, the feminine revolution that Fatma Nesibe anticipated had changed the status of women around turkish globe. In Europe, relations between men and women had entered a new historical stage, which the Swedish sociologist Goran Therborn has called "post-patriarchy".
This is a major historical yeni, virtually jeni and unpractised anywhere before, and as turkixh have just seen, it is a recent change. Yet at seex end of the 20 th century, Turkey, alone among European countries, remained tudkish within the patriarchal tradition.
Turkish women had unequal status under both civil and criminal law, with the husband formally recognised as head of the household and a Tutkish Code based on the notion of family honour, rather than individual rights. The legal situation reflected social reality: at a meeting of the World Economic Turiksh in Istanbul in Novembera table measuring the "gender gap" inequality between yeni and women put Turkey th of countries, behind Tunisia, Ethiopia and Algeria.
Today, Turkey continues to lag behind every other European country in almost every measure of gender equality. It has the lowest number of women in parliament, the lowest share of women in turlish workforce and the highest rates of female illiteracy. The perception that, in this highly sensitive area, Turkey is out of step with other European societies has turkish central to European debates on Turkey's EU accession.
In both France and Germany, opponents of Turkish accession have made this a key plank of their campaign. The issue also plays to anxiety within European countries about the integration of their own Muslim communities. Over the past 18 months, seex team of ESI analysts has been researching the changing reality of women in Turkey.
We talked to dozens of Turkish politicians, yebi, academics and businesspeople. Our research took us from women's shelters sex wealthy areas of Istanbul, through the growing urban centres in Turkey's southeast, to small towns near the Iranian border. We sought to answer two questions: what are the root causes of Turkey's vast gender gap; and what turkish being done by Turkish political actors to try to close it?
If this report had been written inthe year Turkey gained the status of candidate yeno EU membership, its conclusions would have been deeply pessimistic. Writing inhowever, the turkish shifts dramatically.
Recent amendments to yenj Turkish Constitution assert that "women and men have equal rights" and "the state is responsible for taking all necessary measures to turish equality between women and men" Article A new civil codereforms to the employment lawthe establishment of family courts and a completely reformed penal code have brought about comprehensive changes to the legal status of women.
These are the most radical reforms since the abolition of polygamy in the s. As a result, for the first time in its history Turkey has the legal framework of sfx post-patriarchal society.
These reforms turkishh reflect profound changes in Turkish democracy. The reforms to the Penal Code were passed by a parliament in which the conservative Justice and Development Party Sex held an overwhelming ueni, following an effective and professional campaign by women's organisations.
To the surprise of many of the activists themselves, the AKP yeni proved willing to engage with civil society and debate the issues on their merits. Turkish women's organisations have emerged as influential political players. These enormously important legal reforms should not obscure the fact that the gender gap in Turkey remains vast. This report also explores the reality of Turkey's gender gap, including its economic and regional dimensions.
It concludes with an assessment of what it might take to finally bring Fatma Nesibe's feminine revolution to Turkey. Recent progress suggests turjish Turkey may finally be on the eve of this global revolution. On 27 Aprilthe Turkish military fired a warning shot across the bows of Turkish democracy in the form of a late-night posting on its website.
The general staff declared its opposition to the nomination of current foreign minister Abdullah Gul as presidential candidate. Yenj reminded the Turkish government of the military's role as "staunch defender of secularism. In Turkey, such threats are taken turkidh. The coup ended yehi the execution of the country's first elected prime minister, together with his foreign and finance ministers.
The coup "marked the beginning of the mass imprisonment of the rebellious young. Most recently, the so-called 'soft coup' of saw political parties banned and elected politicians sent to prison on trumped-up charges.
The generals' ultimatum was followed by a series of demonstrations, with one xex the largest on 29 April on Turkishh Caglayan Square to "protect secularism". The speakers at Caglayan, and the members of the organising committee, were almost all women. Nur Serter, vice-president of the Ataturk Thought Association, a yeni NGO, offered her encouragement to the generals, telling the crowd "we line up in front of the glorious Turkish army.
Nilufer Gole wondered whether would be remembered as the year of the "feminine coup", marked by an alliance between "secular women and generals". To outside observers, this may seem an unlikely alliance.
But it is not the first time that Kemalist women's organisations have joined hands with the military to challenge the rise of "Islamism". In the official sex of the Turkish state, the emancipation turkish women was accomplished single-handedly by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk between andliberating Turkey at a stroke from the influence of Islamic law. Ataturk's reforms granted Turkish women full turkish with men well in advance of other European nations, without the need for a protracted struggle.
For later generations of Kemalist women, raised on these precepts as articles of faith, the imperative has been to defend this legacy against the dangers of a resurgent Islam by any means necessary — even at the expense of Turkish democracy. This "nationalist feminism" was consciously constructed during the early decades of the Republic. One of its central myths is the existence of a golden age of gender equality in pre-Islamic Turkish Central Asia.
The intellectual Ziya Gokalp turkisn, yeni key figure in early Turkish nationalism, wrote:. According to Gokalp it was foreign influence that brought this pre-Islamic golden age to an end, until it was finally restored by a nationalist leader. When the ideal of Turkish culture was born, was it not essential to remember and revitalise the beautiful rules of old Turkish lore?
Al Monitor. Retrieved 18 November Retrieved 16 November The Algemeiner. Retrieved 17 November Hurriyer Daily News. Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 27 December The Washington Post. Retrieved June 13, Retrieved Accessed The suicide rate is now at eight people a day, and dozens more attempt it. His suicide was recorded by security cameras nearby. Suicide is always an immensely difficult and sensitive issue, and we never fully know why a person ends their own life.
But in a country where there is no freedom of speech and no room for a sensible, nuanced debate on anything, the reaction to these cases has been ugly, to say the least. After the initial shock of the tragedy, what followed was extremely judgmental and politicised coverage in which the victims were accused, shamed and sentenced one last time.
Stripped of any empathy or context the suicide was also regarded as a rebellion against God, and an act of defiance against the authorities and the existing order. There are now even suggestions that Turkey should enact punitive laws against academics and economists who make gloomy predictions about the Turkish economy. And 36 people have been taken to court for posting social media jokes about the plunge of the Turkish lira.
Many of the graves have no headstones, only numbers. Their friends lacked the legal authority to give them a proper burial, and relatives were reluctant. After extensive media coverage the relatives granted permission to the friends of the deceased, and the four siblings will not after all be interred anonymously in the Cemetery of the Companionless. They will have a tombstone. It was unable to grant men and women equal rights and responsibilities in marriage, divorce, property ownership and employment.
The yardstick for measuring Turkey's law was no longer the Ottoman past or the Sharia, but contemporary international standards. By highlighting the shortcomings of the Civil Code, Turkey's reservations to CEDAW set a clear reform agenda for the Turkish women's movement — although it would take another 17 years for their efforts to bear fruit.
Campaigns launched by women's rights activists in the s to reform the Civil Code came to nothing in the face of indifference from the political establishment. It did so in September , but without having amended its Civil Code. From this point on, the EU became an additional influence on the process, with the regular pre-accession progress reports noting the need to bring the Civil Code in line with CEDAW's requirements. Women's organisations continued to advocate on the issue through the s, using increasingly sophisticated campaigning techniques.
A special mailing list Kadin Kurultayi for activists was set up, and women's NGOs from all over Turkey joined forces for a national campaign. Women's groups lobbied intensively in parliament. Finally Turkey's new Civil Code was adopted on 22 November It was a radical change to the legal foundations of gender relations and the family. Spouses became equal partners with the same decision-making powers and rights over the children and property acquired during marriage.
The new law removes the concept of "illegitimate children" and grants custody of children born out of wedlock to their mother. In the union of a marriage, there is, according to the draft, no more family leader. Spouses have the same rights and duties and administer the same responsibilities. Both are responsible for the education of the children.
With these reforms, Turkey had taken an important step towards joining the post-patriarchal world. It was also an important success for the Turkish women's movement. Having started as small groups of urban women meeting in apartments in Istanbul in the early s, the Turkish women's movement had become a serious factor in national politics. There are two demographic trends that have had a profound impact on the lives of Turkish women: urbanisation and declining population growth.
In , only a quarter of Turks lived in cities; by , the proportion was 65 percent. More Turkish women found themselves living in cities, with greater access to education and other modernising influences. Female literacy leapt from 13 percent in to 81 percent in Moreover, with fewer children to look after as the number of children born per mother decreased, they began to take an increasing interest in the world outside their homes. These demographic changes introduced new social strata into Turkish society.
Turkey's urban population more than doubled in size between and , resulting in an increase of New and rapidly growing suburbs emerged on the outskirts of Istanbul, Ankara and other large cities. They were filled with people who had arrived from their villages with few skills, bringing with them a distinctly conservative and religious outlook.
But they also aspired to education, and enjoyed greater opportunities for social mobility than those who remained in the villages.
It was this new urban class that created the core constituency for the rise of political Islam, and the electoral success of the Islamist Welfare Party.
Women played a key part in this major shift in Turkish politics. The Istanbul suburb of Umraniye is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the country. Jenny B. White, an American anthropologist who conducted research there throughout the s, portrays the ambivalence of women who were simultaneously resentful of and resigned to the many constraints they faced. One of many conversations she related turned on the subject of women's freedom of movement.
They agreed among themselves that unprotected women should be limited in their movements. They discussed what the Quran said on the subject, although one woman pointed out that, when it came to the severity of the restrictions, it was men's power that determined this, not the Quran. Several women remarked that they would like to work, but their husbands did not allow it. As the women talked among themselves, the dissatisfaction rose. Earn some money. It's hard when you have to rely on your husband every day to leave money for you.
And sometimes he forgets; then what do you do? In one of the strangest paradoxes of Turkish politics, it was the Islamist Party that was instrumental in opening up new opportunities for women in areas such as Umraniye. In the mids, the Welfare Party developed a very active women's wing. The idea of mobilising women within the party organisation was closely associated with current prime minister Erdogan, who was at the time head of the Welfare Party in Istanbul.
Women of the Welfare Party registered close to a million members in about 6 years… The women's organisations were perhaps the most dynamic unit of the party, visible in all its rallies, meetings and activities. In Umraniye, nearly half of the 50, registered party members were women. Political activism on behalf of the Welfare Party offered women new opportunities — the chance to be trained, work outside the home and exercise a voice on public affairs.
In , Yesim Arat talked to 25 women volunteers for the Welfare Party. She was "taken aback by the unmitigated fulfilment these political activists derived from their political work. Without exception, all women interviewed recalled their political activism with pleasure. Yet the political platform of the Welfare Party continued to emphasise that a woman's place was with her home and family.
When the party first made it into the national parliament in , it had not a single woman among its 62 MPs. By , it was the largest party in the parliament with deputies, but still with no women represented. Its discourse on women continued to be highly conservative. In , there was a debate among senior party leaders as to whether it was proper to shake hands with a woman. Many of its leaders held to the view that women's issues were best solved by a return to the asri saadet , or age of felicity — namely, by the rules and mores from the time of the Prophet and his immediate successors.
White comments on the differences in outlook between men and women Welfare activists. Attitudes towards the tessetur , or Islamic clothing headscarf and overcoat , perfectly illustrated this tension. Islamist men saw the headscarf as necessary to protect women and the family honour, by restraining fitne and fesad the chaos of uncontrolled female sexuality.
For religious women with ambitions, however, the headscarf came to symbolise mobility and independence. A lively debate also sprung up among religious women in the late s, beginning with articles in the daily Zaman were religious women defended an increasingly bold agenda for change.
One woman wrote in Because it's easy to have power over women who are solely busy with their husbands and are isolated from the outer world and to make them adore oneself. When women are able to receive education and realize themselves, and view their environment with a critical eye, they make men fear. Selime Sancar from Rainbow explained her position:. While they opposed feminism mainly because feminist ideas were inspired by the materialist values of the Western world, many of them were in fact acting in a feminist spirit when they fought to have access to universities and thereby to gain a place in society as educated professional women without having to lose their identity, symbolised by the veil.
Religious feminists gained the confidence to challenge mainstream Islamist thinking on its merits. She is also a founder of the Baskent Women's Platform. In her view, "religion has been interpreted differently by different people throughout history, leading to male-dominated interpretations.
It gave voice to new attitudes among religious women and young people. According to Tuksal, "Twenty years ago, conservatives were against women working. Even going to university was frowned upon. Up to 90 percent of the young men in our circles now want to marry a working woman. The year saw the Virtue Party successor to the Islamist Welfare Party split apart, to create two new parties.
One of them, the Felicity Party, continued to present a strongly traditional view of women. In the view of the Felicity Party, stated clearly in its official party programme, the biggest threat to Turkish society comes from abroad.
The other new party, the AKP, offered a strikingly different platform. From the outset, it defined its difference from the traditionalist Islamists by reference to two issues above all: European integration and the position of women in Turkish society. Its promises include encouraging women to participate in public life and be active in politics; repealing discriminatory provisions in laws; working with women's NGOs; and "improving social welfare and work conditions in light of the needs of working women".
When the new Civil Code was brought before parliament in , the Felicity Party opposed it strongly. In a speech before the parliamentary assembly, one of its deputies stated:. Where there is no head, there is anarchy. This reform will not strengthen the family, it will weaken it. The husband is the head of the union. The newly created AKP took a different position. His main objection was on an issue that the women's associations had raised concerning the lack of retrospective application of rules on the equal division of assets after divorce.
Sahin proposed that if couples married before do not explicitly object, the newly introduced property regime should also apply to them. Women's activists told ESI that they were surprised by this support at the time.
The AKP clearly set out to distance itself from the traditional Islamists. It had 71 founding members in , of whom 12 were women half with headscarves, and half without. Its official party programme avoided direct reference to Islam, proclaiming adherence to Turkey's secular traditions defined as "the state's impartiality toward every form of religious belief and philosophical conviction.
Of course, it would take more than fine words to convince the sceptics. Many secularists in Turkey remain profoundly sceptical about the AKP and its intentions. How can a party with its electoral base in the conservative heartland of Central Anatolia or Istanbul suburbs like Umraniye be truly committed to the cause of gender equality?
What was to come next, however, was some of the most radical changes to the legal status of women in the history of modern Turkey. The Turkish Penal Code, in force from until , was the most striking example of the divergence between rhetoric and reality in the Republic of Turkey. Like many of the laws adopted at the time of Ataturk, it was based on a Western European model — in this case, the Italian Penal Code of This was then adapted to reflect Turkish values and traditions.
In its treatment of sexual crimes, the Penal Code reflected the belief that women's bodies were the property of men, and that sexual crimes against women were in fact crimes against the honour of the family.
It was full of traditional concepts adapted from Arabic: irz honor or purity , haya shame , ar things to be ashamed of. It treated women's sexuality as a threat that needed to be controlled by society.
The use of the word irza gecmek for rape implies that rape is viewed in the code primarily as a violation of honour, and not as a crime committed against an individual's bodily integrity. Treating rape as a question of honour carried a number of consequences. First, it decriminalised marital rape: sexual acts within the context of marriage — even if forced — could not be considered a violation of a woman's honour.
Second, it exempted a rapist from punishment if he offered to marry his victim — thereby restoring her honour. Even in the case of a woman raped by many men, an offer of marriage from one of them was considered sufficient for charges against all of them to be dropped. The Penal Code was also extremely lenient to "honour crimes" — that is, crimes committed for the purpose of restoring a family's honour. One provision granted a reduction of seven-eighths to the perpetrators of honour crimes where the victims had been caught in the act of adultery or "illegitimate sexual relations" including, for women, sex before marriage , or if there was clear evidence that the victim had just completed such an act.
The Code also valued single women less than married women. Abducting a single woman could bring three years imprisonment, while abducting a married women carried a minimum of seven years — suggesting that the real 'victim' in the latter case was the husband.
The persistence of these norms past the end of the 20 th century was no mere legal anachronism, but reflected values that were embedded in Turkish society, including among its judges and prosecutors. At the same time, as the 20 th century came to an end, these values began to be increasingly contested, as demonstrated most dramatically by the public reactions to a number of highly controversial court decisions.
In , a judge in the Central Anatolian province of Corum refused to grant divorce to a pregnant woman who had been abused by her husband, citing a Turkish proverb: "Women should never be free of a child in the womb and a whip on the back! In another court in , a young man who murdered his cousin, Sevda Gok, in the province of Sanliurfa was given a light sentence, following arguments from the prosecution that "the incident was caused by the socio-economic structure of Sanliurfa.
The trial brought the tolerance of the judiciary for these "honour killings" to the top of the national agenda. However, the outcry did not prevent other such judgements. As late as June , a court in the southeast Anatolian province of Mardin acquitted 27 perpetrators, including military officers, accused of raping a young girl.
The court found that there was insufficient evidence as to whether the year-old had consented to the acts. Experiences such as these motivated Turkish women's organisations to mobilise in pursuit of reform. It was the process of European integration that provided them with the political opportunity to make real progress.
Reform of the Penal Code was made a condition for the start of EU membership negotiations. The association Women for Women's Human Rights WWHR responded by forming a working group in early representing academics, NGOs and bar associations to prepare recommendations for the new Penal Code: "to each article pertaining to us we formulated a word-by-word amendment, including a justification to explain our point of view.
Yet to many of these activists, the campaign appeared to grind to halt before it got started, with the landslide victory of the AKP in the elections of November Many women's organisations saw the AKP, as successor of the Islamist Welfare Party, as fundamentally opposed to their agenda. Some people wanted to drop the whole thing. But after initial differences, the group gained new energy… It might be several decades until the Penal Code was revised again. We thought: 'Let's do it so we can tell our daughters that we at least tried'.
As it happened, the AKP government took up the matter exactly where its predecessors had left off — with a draft prepared for the previous government by an expert group of academics. Senior academics had exercised effective control over the legislative drafting process for many years, irrespective of who was in power.
Chief among them was Sulhi Donmezer, a highly respected figure in the legal establishment known as the 'professor of professors'. He had been involved in most criminal law reform initiatives since the s, including the preparation of new criminal procedures after the coup.
It was Donmezer who had been put in charge again in the late s with preparing a new draft Penal Code. Remarkably, the draft prepared by Donmezer for the government in power from to had left all of these provisions intact, except for cosmetic changes. Donmezer is now positioned, an irony of history, as the head architect of the EU harmonisation efforts.
You decide whether we should laugh or cry…". WWHR circulated a booklet with concrete recommendations to the new set of parliamentarians, and called a meeting with the head of the parliamentary Justice Committee, Koksal Toptan AKP.
Toptan listened in silence to the arguments made by the members of the Platform, leaving some of them despondent. Nonetheless, by June , Toptan announced that the women's objections would be sent to a subcommittee for consideration. He announced his own agreement with the women's call for the criminalisation of marital rape.
Toptan also noted the importance of the EU integration process as a motivation:. In this framework important laws and harmonisation packages have been passed. There have been 65 legislative changes. Now this Penal Code draft seriously conflicts with the new harmonisation laws passed. No one should have any doubt that we will bring it to the highest level.
Over the summer of , it became clear that, for the first time, a real public debate on gender equality was underway. On 23 July, columnist Ali Bayramoglu encouraged the government to meet with the women's groups and take their concerns seriously. The next day the columnist published a letter from an academic at Istanbul University, arguing that consultations on the new draft had been too brief, and that feedback had not been taken into consideration.
Ali Bayramoglu concluded:. This is more important than the Penal Code draft itself. Justice minister Cemil Cicek telephoned Ali Bayramoglu after the column to emphasise that the government remained open to discussion on the issue. The minister reiterated:. We would like all kinds of opinions to be related to the commission. The group, under the leadership of Koksal Toptan, will try to do what is necessary as well as possible.
The government was well aware of the extent of scepticism among Turkish women's organisations about its intentions. Because AKP was born out of such a party, the MPs are assumed to be all like that, not the kind that would defend women's rights. Whereas those that split from their former party split for a reason — because they did not agree". By the time the subcommittee on penal code reform started its work, at the end of October , the women's organizations had succeeded in reshaping the debate.
As Koksal Toptan acknowledged on national television:. They participated by coming to the commission or sent reports. And they successfully steered public opinion. We have all the reports the women's organizations have sent to the subcommittee members. When we get to the articles they are objecting to, the reports will certainly be paid attention to.
We are really going to listen to every segment of society and especially the women for this law". The subcommittee extended its deliberations for nine months, until June The academics were known as critics of the Donmezer draft and suggested that it be rewritten from first principles. The atmosphere created by the EU integration process played an important role in helping the subcommittee members reach agreement that a fundamental revision was necessary. The press were also given a daily account of the discussions — a very unusual degree of transparency in Turkey.
Every day when we got out of the meeting, I would explain what we had done on that day. They would cover it in the papers. And if there were complaints from people, they would also get covered and we would read them.
In a way this was a means of interaction with the interested social partners. Women's organisations, the media, they were all positively following, and this made a difference. Each time there was a breakthrough, they would immediately congratulate the subcommittee members.
They also kept EU embassies informed about the debate. Whenever more pressure was needed, they would send faxes and emails or visit the parliament. We were following the inside story through our friends in the national assembly. This allowed us to respond, positively or negatively, as each article was discussed. Gaye Erbatur, a CHP parliamentarian, was a key ally of the women's organizations throughout the whole process. Although she was not a member of the subcommittee, she devoted almost all of her time to influencing the process.
I used the intermissions to discuss issues like virginity tests or rapists marrying their victims with committee members. I was giving them concrete examples, to make them understand how women feel.
The debates were very heated. The public debate on the reform was particularly heated in autumn In October Dogan Soyaslan, an academic adviser to the Justice Ministry who joined the meetings from time to time, defended an article in the earlier Donmezer draft that allowed rapists to go unpunished if they married their victims. Soyaslan asserted that, in Turkish society, no one else would agree to marry a woman who is not a virgin, and that for the victim to marry her rapist protects her from honour killing.
He pointed out,. Yet these marriages continue. They may marry reluctantly after a rape, but time is a great healer. They will forget. The marriage won't break. Soyaslan's proposal triggered an uproar in the press, only made worse when, during a televised debate, he confirmed that he could not imagine this paragraph to apply to his own daughter, saying "No, but I'm different, I'm a professor.
Though it created a lot of noise in the press, Soyaslan's intervention did not impress the subcommittee. It is to change them and prevent them with disincentives".
We all knew that. Encouraging a rapist to marry the rape victim does not fit with the basic logic of law. The draft was returned to the Justice Committee on 30 June , which deliberated on the text until 14 July and then presented it largely unchanged to parliament, where it was finally passed on 26 September The outcome was no less than a legal and philosophical revolution for Turkish society. And the most important reflection of this is the Penal Code. Some 35 articles concerning women and their rights to sexual autonomy were changed.
All references to vague patriarchal constructs such as chastity, morality, shame, public customs or decency had been eliminated. The new Penal Code treats sexual crimes as violations of individual women's rights and not as crimes against society, the family or public morality. It criminalises rape in marriage, eliminates sentence reductions for honour killings, ends legal discrimination against non-virgin and unmarried women, criminalises sexual harassment in the workplace and treats sexual assault by members of the security forces as aggravated offences.
Provisions on the sexual abuse of children have been amended to remove the possibility of under-age consent. This was not just a revolution in the legal status of women. It was also a sign of profound changes in Turkish democracy.
The entire process was conducted in a highly transparent fashion, with intense debate and inputs from across society. As the minister of justice informed the parliament in September "In half a century of multiparty life this may be the first time that the Parliament has produced its own draft.
The image of the new Penal Code was tarnished by a last minute attempt by prime minister Erdogan to introduce amendments criminalising adultery. This was presented in some foreign media as a return to the principles of Islamic family law: in fact, it would have been a return to the legal situation that existed from to for men; for women adultery was decriminalised only in Nor was it an 'Islamist plot': women organisations were shocked to find that the impromptu proposal by the prime minister initially also found support among the opposition CHP.
The initiative was, however, a break with the consultative style that had produced the reform and had been praised by the minister of justice. It also failed. Reactions from within Turkey and across Europe were extremely hostile, forcing the prime minister to withdraw the proposal. Not surprisingly, the episode left a sour taste.
Nonetheless, the Penal Code of represents a profound achievement for the women's movement, the government and the opposition. Unlike the reforms of the s, it was achieved not by authoritarian dictate, but through intense dialogue and the engagement of civil society and the media in the parliamentary process. It was not just a victory for Turkish women, but also for Turkish democracy. With the new Penal Code, Turkey's legislation entered the post-patriarchal era. Law is a powerful tool for social change, but it is not a magic wand.
It needs to be backed up by resources and government initiatives, to raise awareness and empower citizens to use the new legal framework. Even then, it can take many years for the effects to become visible across society. In the course of this research, ESI came across police statistics for listing the number of cases of "men depriving a woman of her virginity on the false pretext of promising to marry", a crime that no longer exists.
In South East Anatolia, ESI found that judges can still take months to rule on requests for urgent assistance from women under threat of family violence. Across the country, there are still a number of judges and prosecutors unaware of the content of the new laws. So how far has Turkey really moved towards gender equality? This chapter looks at a range of government initiatives, and their effects on different sections of Turkish society. It makes it clear that legal reform is only the first step on a very long road.
It highlights one of the most important policy challenges facing Turkish policy makers: the vast range of cultures and lifestyles, ranging from post-modern to neo-feudal, in one of Europe's largest democracies. On 30 October , Songul A. Like hundreds of thousands of other girls across rural Turkey, Songul had not been registered by her family at birth.
As far as the Turkish state was concerned, she did not exist. She had never been to school and did not know how to read. Songul had been raped by Huseyin, a neighbour, while her husband Mehmet was away for seasonal work.
Bahattin, a relative of Songul's husband, found out about the rape, and had kept Songul tied up in a barn for two days, torturing her. As is usually the case, the woman was seen as the guilty party for violating her husband's honour, rather than as the victim. The traditional village mechanism for resolving questions of 'honour' sprang into action.