Tarkan: Fight for Female Equality
|International Women's Day is full|
of pain and not a day to celebrate
as violence against women
continues/Tarkan on Facebook
Last year Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described abortion as tantamount to "murder", angering women's rights groups and sparking an intense debate in the country over a woman's right to choose to bring a pregnancy to term.
In line with Erdoğan's comments, Turkey's health minister followed this up with proposed changes in the current abortion law, to be more in line with some European Union member states that either ban abortion or set very strict conditions for it. However, after thousands of women and activists staged demonstrations throughout the country in protest of the planned measures, the abortion issue was taken off the agenda.
As women activists across Turkey continue to raise awareness for gender equality, it reminds of Tarkan's written message calling for greater focus on women issues, released by the Turkish entertainer in March this year on International Women's Day.
Recent events give justification to Tarkan's March message over female equality, when he said Women's Day could not be celebrated in Turkey as women are still being exposed to violence and murder.
The Turkish pop star took advantage of the international day this year to focus on the plight of women in rural regions of Turkey - especially where reports of violence to women, forced child brides and honour killings are high among the Kurdish minorities.
Pain, not joy on Women's Day, says Turkish pop icon
Turkish pop superstar Tarkan said in a message on March 8, International Women's Day that the day is full of pain and not one to celebrate on our calendars as violence against women continues across Turkey and the world.
UPDATE: Tarkan stands up for women (2014) >>
"In a society dignifying mothers and motherhood, unfortunately, men are killing women and girls. This contradiction is not understandable," he noted, criticising the murder of women and domestic violence in the country.
"On the one hand, it dignifies maternity, while on the other beating and torturing other people's mothers, future mothers. Worse still even exploiting their labour. Taking their freedoms away from them," he added, accusing the "unhealthy approach of masculinity stuck between [traditional concepts of] the sacred and honourable, triggering the violence".
To celebrate the day, the singer had advised greater awareness on the plight of women and to apply the protections provided by the due process of law. Activists say legal reforms have not been seen as adequate and state institutions are widely criticised by activists for failing to implement laws and regulations.
President Abdullah Gül had said in his Women's Day message in March that it is not possible to reach the desired levels in women's rights with only legal regulations, adding that a modern educational approach that teaches women their rights and supports them in defending their rights in democratic ways is the key to this problem.
Prime Minister Erdoğan pledged to act with women in their struggle for rights, also calling on women to learn and defend their rights during a speech in the eastern provinces of Turkey, where Kurdish honour killings are on the rise.
In 2002, Erdoğan's government reformed Turkish criminal and civil law, and since then, the rights of women and men during marriage, divorce, and any subsequent property rights have all been equalised. A criminal law has been established that deals with female sexuality as a matter of individual rights, rather than as a matter of family honour. Additions to the Turkish constitution oblige the state to use all the necessary means to promote the equality of the sexes.
Family courts were also created, labour laws were instituted to prohibit sexism, and programmes were created to educate against domestic violence and to improve access to education for girls.
Activists had argued that passing stricter abortion laws would have back pedalled on the progress Erdoğan's government has achieved since a decade in power.