Red card Erdoğan for too many fouls

Exposing the underbelly of the government’s approach to women, the prime ministry released recommendations that aim to restrict access to public health care for families with many children in the east and southeast of Turkey.

The findings stem from meetings between the Prime Ministry’s General Directorate of Family and Social Research and NGOs, though many of the region’s largest and most productive organizations were not invited.

This official document fails to view honor killings as a feudal tradition that disposes of a woman for being raped, finding work or following her heart. Instead it vaguely calls on families to seek God in punishing her "indiscretions" with something less than murder. According to the report "feminist language" adopted by the media should be replaced with accurate religious information. By failing to protect women whose families disregard them as humans and dismissing reproductive rights, the prime ministry reveals the depth of its own shameful ignorance.

The most alarming of the recommendations is a proposed law that would cut health services to families with children exceeding a given number. Added to this multi-level discrimination is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent insistence that Turkish women should have at least three children. Under the proposed law, heeding his advice would make millions of Turkey’s poorest families more vulnerable to sickness and poverty.

After the prime ministry’s ideological pirouette, some might accuse the government of punishing the region for its loss of local posts last month to the Democratic Society Party, or DTP, the party most popular with the Kurdish population concentrated in the east and southeast. With plans like these, the ruling party’s losses in the region come as no surprise.

Killing progress
More likely though, the report is one more blow in a line of maneuvers aimed at dismantling women’s progress in Turkey. Since women in Turkey battled to turn an inadequate Penal Code into one of the world’s most progressive on protection of women and their rights a few years ago, the government has all but declared war on the rights of women.

The ruling AK Party’s proposed constitution identifies women as a group needing "protection", stripping away clauses that ensured equal opportunity and rights. Under this government women have lost ground in employment while more men are finding jobs. Last month, Minister of Environment Veysel Eroğlu, replying to women’s complaints about unemployment, asked, "Don't you have enough work at home?"

In this ailing climate, an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government this week led police to raid the home of Professor Türkan Saylan, a one-woman force in getting girls to school in Turkey. Saylan, 76 and frail from chemotherapy treatment, runs an association that provides scholarships to 29,000 university students and 36,000 school girls. "Those who exercise their democratic rights are punished in this country," she said in an interview on NTV Tuesday. Detained in the round-up of people this week was Doğan Media executive Tijen Mergen, the woman behind another successful campaign that helped tens of thousands girls stay in school, especially in the east and southeast.

Backlash is petty. To use a metaphor that the prime minister, a once-aspiring professional footballer, can understand: Retaliation and tackling from behind gets you thrown out of the game. In the language of feminism, you’ve been warned.
Yazarın Tüm Yazıları