A Mayor Uses Unconventional Means to Improve Women’s Lot

A 28-article collective labor agreement was signed between Mardin’s Nusaybin Municipality and a local labor union, Tüm-Bel-Sen, that has some unusual provisions.  A speaker for the union, Doğan Altun, said that the mayor, Ayşe Gökkan, insisted on adding an article that supports women’s rights to the part of the agreement dealing with rights and leaves with pay.

This article states that if the worker marries an underage wife or a second “wife” (by religious rites), or commits adultery, he will be stripped of all his rights in the agreement. If parents don’t send their daughters to school, they will not benefit from the agreement. If the worker uses economic or physical violence against his wife, all his economic rights in the agreement will be transferred to her. Women workers will be granted leave with pay on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and March 8, International Women’s Day. (click here)

I’m not sure what I think of this ad hoc approach to improving women’s rights. It flies in the face of the AKP’s insistence that it won’t use quotas to improve women’s rights because women should be allowed to stand on their own merits. Much as I approve of anything that gives women more protection, this contract seems 1) unenforceable in the courts; 2) contradictory to basic principles of equality and justice that are based on human rights for both men and women.  On the other hand, one could argue that if the courts and police won’t take action, that if the culture of violence and harm to women is so intractable, that one has to start somewhere.

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