Women Should Serve The State (Guess Who Believes This: Kemalists or AKP?)

Update 1: Andrew Finkel has an interesting analysis of why abortion (and Caesarian births?!) are suddenly on the front burner, when for a long time abortion hadn’t been an issue at all. Click here.

Update 2: The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gökçek, reportedly told a news program on June 1, “Women kill their babies born out of adultery. Why do babies die because of these so-called mothers? Let mothers kill themselves.” This statement has galvanized both women’s organizations and men to hit the streets to protest an abortion ban — and the attitude of the government toward women. The statement is very revealing of a casual acceptance of violence toward women and denial of women’s ownership of and control over their own bodies, much less their rights as individuals. They are subject to community norms and the penalty for breaking those norms is death.

The AKP, spearheaded by PM Erdogan, is attempting to roll back women’s current right to an abortion in the first ten weeks of pregnancy to four. (click here) That amounts to a ban because four weeks is often the period before a pregnancy is discovered. If this goes through, the ‘morning after’ pill will have a big sales upswing in Turkey.

What is more disturbing is the reasoning — that if births are not increased, Turkey — and Turkishness — will disappear off the map. This is a jingoistic fear that resonates with the old racialist understanding of Turkishness as soy (lineage, descent), a blood-based nationalism like Germany’s jus sanguinis. In such a conception of national membership, there is no room for immigrants, migrants, or minorities, even if they are culturally assimilated. Ask the fourth-generation Turks in Germany.

Also, it puts Devlet Baba (Father State) right back in authoritarian locus parentis, just when everyone thought a liberal constitution will give rights to individuals, and not only to the state. But then, perhaps what is meant is to give male individuals rights, not women, who still are defined by what the state and their community and family needs and wants them to do. They have never been — and appallingly are still not — individuals. Their bodies belong to their families, their husbands, their communities, and — as ever — to the state. These have the right to define, control and dispose of women’s bodies, and although the new Penal Code now protects women as individuals (rape or murder of a woman is no longer treated differently if she is a virgin or not; a rapist may no longer marry his victim in order to be set free), society — led by government example – has not made that leap. If you doubt that, look at the posts under “Women” on this blog.

And what about rape? Well, the government says that children born when “bad things” happen to the mother will be taken care of by the state. Those poor kids  — is AKP planning to improve the condition of their miserable orphanages, then? And those poor women. There is no concern whatsoever for a woman’s trauma of bearing a rapist’s child — or her safety in a place like Turkey, where even gossip about a girl or woman can lead the community to drive her out, or her murder by relatives who feel their “honor” has been impugned. Imagine what would happen to the raped woman who must also then give birth. And given the lack of women’s shelters, where is she to escape the violence; where can she safely give birth? Under the eyes of her rapist (more often than not someone in the family or community)? It is a nightmarish scenario that indicates to me that the men making these policies have no idea what goes on in their country with regard to women’s lives. Or they don’t care.

Women’s groups are girding up to fight this, but AKP has shown a tendency to listen to all sides and then do whatever it wants as if no one else had spoken. If need be, they’ll hold the vote in a small room, and then pack it with AKP people so no one else in parliament can get in to cast a vote.

43 Responses to “Women Should Serve The State (Guess Who Believes This: Kemalists or AKP?)”

  1. I am so sad and scared by this. When I moved to Turkey 2 years ago to be with my Turkish husband, I researched the laws on abortion and was so relieved to find that it wasn’t a controversial issue like in the U.S. If a new ban is enacted, I will feel hesitant to even have sex with my husband knowing that abortion is no longer an option in this country. These men should be ashamed of themselves, along with every Turk who allows this to happen.

  2. What do you recommend, Michelle; that we write to our senators? I say relax and enjoy the Turkish experience. Soon you will forget the headache from repeatedly banging your head against the wall in the vain attempt to rectify the system.

    I think the sultan is merely following the footsteps of Chairman Mao, who believed in economic growth through population growth. We know where that lead

  3. Abortion Map in the USA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_US_abortion_laws_pre-1973.svg


    after seeing the abortion map of the United States, I understand why you took refuge in Turkey.

    Emre you are very respectful to your American senators. Good for you!
    You are an ideal Turk.

  4. Iro,
    Why are you giving us that map? Thinking USA is the greatest sample of thw world ( for democracy ) ? Or a target of Democracy that Turkey should lead? Listen bro, we are getting closer and closer to American foreign diplomacy’s project called ; ” moderate islam ” .. AmerikayiKalkindirmaPartisi de bunu yapiyor :)) So; lets all of us relax :))

  5. Ostentatious piety and conservatism is one, predictable, response of a culture going through rapid economic and social change. It’s too bad this demonstration of cultural anxiety is usually expressed in terms of regulating women’s behaviour, clothing and sexuality. But perhaps being more understanding its driver can help one manage it rather than just be governed by it? Perhaps.

  6. Iro, that map is from pre-1973, before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in all 50 states. Now it is legal everywhere, but most Republican state legislatures are attempting to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, though not as severely as the AKP is now proposing.
    Emre, I know the level of apathy in Turkey and the insularity of the Turkish parliament to public opinion. But despite these obstacles people must do something. For example, bianet has a good campaign of people sending in their pictures with signs like “It’s my decision” or “It’s my wife’s decision” which I think will be used in a protest to the parliament. People can take a minute from their day to support actions like this or dedicate more time as they are able.

  7. It’s times like this one wishes for federalism and an emasculated national government. At least the coastal states would live in the 20th century.

  8. I did not notice that. Sorry for the confusion.

    Emre was asking you what to do about that in the States He said “What do you recommend, Michelle; that we write to our senators?”
    He seems a very responsible and respectful Turkish citizen of the USA (not so respectful toward the Turkish government though)
    As for his lawyer, Hasan, he implies that AKP is the agent of the USA in Turkey.

    (For some reason, Hasan loves Emre:)

    It is ironic to see that Turkish lovers and haters of the USA are united against AKP.

  9. Cin Ali, are we to understand that you agree with the Maoist sultan? And please can you stop changing your nickname?

  10. Emre please send petitions to your senator in the U.S. senate to support federalism in Turkey.
    But, make sure that your loyal lawyer, Hasan, wont like this idea as he thinks AKP is an American agent in Turkey.

    I am also impressed that you are more American than some white Americans. You already began calling people you do not like as Communist or Fascist, Hitler or Mao:)

    When you talk to your American senator please also ask him or her why the US has very intimate relations with Saudi Arabia, ruled by a fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship that does not allow women to drive:)

  11. You did not answer my question at all. I can only conclude that you DO support the prime minister’s idiotic remarks. Someone has to support him, right?

    In your spare time, you might like to read about’s Mao’s population policy. The Hitler analogy is closer to the mark than you might think; he thought it was the duty of women to breed prodigiously to ensure the continuity of the race. Weird coincidence eh?
    I’ll ask my senator to stop being soft on the AKP government if you learn to read and write (no more smileys, for the love of god). Deal?

  12. It gets better folks. First the minister of health defended the sultan. Then the permanent mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, went a step further by suggesting that the raped woman should drop dead. That will teach women to think before getting raped!

    Fast forward 27 minutes into http://www.kure.tv/haber/648-gunluk/gunluk-melih-gokcek-gundemi-degerlendiriyor/131-Bolum/118944/

  13. I am a lawyer of my own brain. But I am suspicious about who’s lawyer you are 🙂 hahahahah. I rest
    my case…

  14. Emre, can you give the exact time (min:sec)? I didn’t hear him say that at around 27 min.

  15. hasan, emre, and his American senators vs. AKP:)

  16. The sultan also said c-sections are all about the “money, money“, and women who say they have control over their own bodies are “feminists”. His lackeys continue to race to his support…

    The Parliamentary Health Commission chairman Cevdet Erdol (appropriate name?) petitioned to UNICEF and WHO to redefine childhood to start at conception.

    Gokcek got egged by some women

    Sakarya deputy Ayhan Sefer Ustun basically denied any grounds for abortion.

    I wonder if the AKP has been receiving any “education” from conservative American NGOs? I know of their good work in Africa regarding LBGTs…

    Nihat, it’s there; see “Çocuğun ne suçu var, anası kendisini öldürsün!”. The interviewer was asking about rape but Gokcek changed the subject to legitimacy.

  17. Emre please e-mail all your complaints to your American senators only they can bring democracy to Turkey:)

  18. When you don’t have anything to say, Cin Ali, you can make another vacuous remark and pass it off as a joke with a smiley. Women are going to have back-alley abortions over this and the most cogent remark you can make is “hasan, emre, and his American senators vs. AKP:)”

  19. Erdogan is no different from Ahmadinejad: primitive populist pandering to the basest mob instincts. A calamity to Turkey. But apparently the great Turkish people are Ok with being shepherded to the Middle Ages!

  20. Iro, your vacuous comments belie a typical AKP supporter mindset. You pretend to be funny, but you are really pathetic. Just as your bald, sick, angry, ranting boss.

  21. what about king Abdallah of Saudi Arabia who is Emre’s American senators’ buddy:)

    Sattar you should join anti-American Hasan, pro-American Emre and his American senators to get rid of AKP in Turkey.

    Emre, have you already asked your senator to stop being soft on the AKP government?

    Please also ask him or her: even-though 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked the US in 2001 and killed innocent people were Saudis, why on the earth the relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have been getting closer since 2001:)

  22. Yes, I’ve asked “my” senator. Now it’s your turn to learn to read and write.

    What do the US and Saudi Arabia have to do with abortion in Turkey? Perhaps you’d like to say something about the financial crisis in Europe too? It’s about as relevant to abortion in Turkey as 9/11 and US/Saudi ties are.
    You are changing the subject just like the prime minister. That’s what people who don’t have the character to admit a mistake do.

  23. You see everything has something to do to with everything. Your US senators have something to do with abortion in Turkey. That is why you, as a loyal Turkish origin citizen of America, complain Turkey to your US senators:) Even Hasan who is an openly anti-American Turk, who thinks AKP is an American agent, is with you in your decision:) Then why would not you, such a loyal citizen of America, question the close relations between your American government and the fundamentalist dictatorial Saudi regime? That would make you American senators upset?

    You can question only things that your American government allows you to do?

  24. Iro,
    How old are you ?? 🙂

  25. old enough not to whine whenever I talk to Americans about Turkey.

    I have not met any Americans telling me they would petition to the senators of another country to complain about their own country:)

  26. Since your reading skills are lacking, I’m going to have to explain the joke to you. I suggested that WE should complain to OUR senators—this implicitly includes you. The joke is that Turkey does not have senators, and it would not make a difference even if it. As they say in English, “whoosh…”

    Now you can go back to defending violence against women.

  27. Emre you are too American when it comes to your English. You are too Turkish when it comes to insulting people for their English.

    You hate your Turkish identity and can not become fully American either [complex of inferiority?]

    But do not worry there are many people like you here who whine when they see Americans like children whine when they see their parents.

    Yes, AKP and all the people who are not as American as you support violence against women. Cry and preach this to all your American friends.

    However, keep silent when your American senators and your American people oppose abortion. Because they are American. They can understand your English:)

  28. First it was “You see everything has something to do to with everything” and now it is “you are too American when it comes to your English”. When are you going to say something that makes sense—in any language?

  29. Yes AKP is “defending violence against women” so please convince your American friends and senators to democratize Turkey. Also, “ask your senator to stop being soft on the AKP government.”

    Are American Republicans who oppose abortion defending violence against women too?
    Are there any Americans asking Turkish politicians stop being soft on the US?

    Emre, the American more than Americans, you are too smart for the Turkish people with your English.

  30. If the AKP is defending violence against women—and they clearly are—why are you supporting them? Secondly, what kind of a megalomaniacal mindset it is you have to think that you can decide on behalf of a whole nation whether or not my English is intelligible. This is an English-language academic blog and I’m pretty sure the intended audience is following me just fine. Maybe you’re not part of it?

  31. American Republicans are defending the violence against women too, because they,like AKP, are pro-life (anti-abortion). I do not understand, though, why Americans do not cry to Turkish politicians to stop being soft against the USA government? Don’t they have inferiority complex Turks who act like Americans?

    Have Americans taught you English only? What about American manners?

    Where is your anti-American lawyer Hasan, by the way?

  32. You can’t defend violence by pointing to other people who advocate violence. Didn’t anyone teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right? I don’t understand why you keep bringing up Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A.; it’s irrelevant to our debate. Can’t you address the subject directly?

  33. American Republicans and Turkish AKP are opposing to cruelty and violence against the unborn children. That is why they are against abortion and opposition to abortion is called “violence against women” only when it happens in Turkey.?:) Do you read what conservative Americans say about cruelty against unborn children? I know you do not like conservative people, but they are Americaaaan:)

    USA and Saudi Arabia is very relevant to this topic. First, you are whining to Americans to complain about Turkey and want them to stop being soft against AKP:)

    Second, Saudi Arabia where women have no right is a close ally of the USA. And modern (!) English speaking Turkish people (Turkish Americans) like you who complain to their American friends and politicians daily (or hourly?) about Turkey, are very respectful when it comes to the Saudi Arabia:)

  34. Cin Ali, for an AKP fanatic you know the Republican talking points pretty well. A fetus is not an unborn child. It does not have the moral status of a person; it is a part of the mother. If you remove it from the mother it will die.

    I am not whining to anyone. It seems you did not understand the joke so I am going to re-explain it: I said I would write to my senator but guess what—Turkey does not have senators. Is this perfectly clear? Even if it did, how would Saudi Arabia be involved? How does it help your case to state that women there have no rights? That’s only supports MY argument! Do you consider Saudi Arabia to be some kind of model for Turkey?
    You don’t make sense on any level, Turkish or English. I could have a more intelligent debate with a wall. At least the wall won’t respond with nonsense.

  35. you have become Turkish again:) I like when you act politely like real Americans. But it quickly appears that you are an American, but a fake one. There a Turk deep inside you:) which prevents you from becoming a real American:)

    You said: “I’ll ask my senator to stop being soft on the AKP government.”

    I am jealous of you. My English is not as good as yours and I do not have American senators to complain about political parties in Turkey. But if I have one, I would embarrass him or her about the close relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia with a dictatorial regime.

    Have you seen picture of a fetus? Killing a fetus is killing an unborn individual. It is not violence it is cruelty. Only animals use violence and cruelty against women and unborn children.

  36. I “have become Turkish again”? What was I before, a Saudi/American dual citizen?

    If you had a senator, you would “embarrass him or her about the close relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia with a dictatorial regime”. And how is this related to abortion in Turkey? Can’t you even think of a remotely relevant thing to say?

    Never have I met such a complete moron. Unless you’re an anomaly, this country is headed down the tubes.

    Yes, I have seen pictures of fetuses, and I do not base my judgment on pictures. Unlike you, I can reason. How can something that can not exist outside and without the support of another person be called an “individual”? Which English dictionary supports that definition? Maybe you should ask your Republican senators to send you a better one?

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