Saturday, 20 December 2014

Turkish women’s rights beyond Islamists and secularists

On Nov. 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at a women’s rights conference that he did not believe in gender equality because it contradicted the laws of nature. Erdogan’s comments angered many people within and outside Turkey, who accused the president and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of misogyny. Secular critics of Erdogan and his party argue that women’s rights have regressed in Turkey under the 12 years of AKP rule since 2002. They are right about the scope of the problems facing Turkish women today, but wrong to blame those deeply rooted problems only on Islamists.
Turkey before the 2002 election of the AKP was no feminist utopia. In 2001, under the rule of a secular coalition government led by the social democrat Bulent Ecevit, Turkey ranked only 81 out of 175 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s Gender-related Development Index, which measures the gender gap in human development in terms of health, education and income. Turkey lagged behind not only the Western European democracies but also such Muslim-majority states as Saudi Arabia (68), Lebanon (70), Jordan (75) and Tunisia (76). Similarly, according to the UNDP’s 2001 Gender Empowerment Measure, which captures inequality in key areas of economic and political participation and decision-making, Turkey ranked 66 out of 70 states, again coming behind such countries as Namibia (29), Botswana (31), Malaysia (45) and Pakistan (58).
In pre-AKP Turkey, about one in 10 women in the east lived in polygamous marriages (despite the prohibition of polygamy since 1926), and about 200 girls and women every year were killed by close relatives in the name of protecting “family honor.” In July 2001, the social democratic-led coalition government passed a regulation requiring female nursing students to undergo virginity tests before being admitted into their studies. Merve Kavakci, a democratically elected member of parliament, was expelled from the National Assembly because her head was covered. To prevent Kavakci from taking oath with her headscarf, Ecevit, the left-leaning prime minister at the time, chanted from the podium “put this woman in her place!” Such was the “place” of women in Turkey before the AKP ascended to power.
The first AKP government under Erdogan’s premiership was actually cause for some hope among many Turkish women. In 2004, Erdogan’s government passed a new penal code greeted by many as an important step toward gender equality and protection of women’s sexual and bodily rights. It criminalized marital rape, eliminated the old penal code’s patriarchal and gender-biased language and imposed a number of measures to prevent sentence reductions traditionally granted by Turkish courts to perpetrators of honor crimes. In August 2012, the AKP-controlled parliament also adopted a new domestic violence law.
Despite these positive legislative initiatives, things have not improved on the ground. Indeed, Turkey has become one of the worst countries in terms of violence against women. For example, between 2002 and 2009, the murder rate of women skyrocketed by 1,400 percent. Since 2002 about 7,000 women have been murdered in Turkey. According to official figures, in 2013 alone, about 28,000 women were assaulted. As many argue, Erdogan’s sexist policies and perpetuation of machismo culture are largely responsible for the country’s rampant gender-based violence problem.
Nor has economic growth offered significant improvements. According to the UNDP, Turkey’s GDP per capita income (in 2011 purchasing power parity terms) rose from $13,090 in 2000 to $18,167 in 2012. In other words, there was about a 39 percent increase in per capita income over a period of 12 years – the last 10 years of which were under AKP rule. According to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, in 2013 Turkey ranked 123 out of 136 countries in terms of women’s participation in the labor force with only 30 percent. In comparison, the ratio of female participation in the labor force in neighboring Greece was almost double at 59 percent.
On the same index, Turkey ranked 103 in terms of women’s political empowerment. In the 2011 parliamentary elections, 22 percent of seat victories on the AKP list went to women, compared to 17 percent of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) list victories. In the last municipal elections, of the 662 city and borough mayoralties won by the AKP, only six were won by women. CHP’s results were a little better but still shamefully low: of 186 mayoralties won by the party, only seven went to female candidates. When it comes to women’s empowerment, Turkey’s Islamists and secularists have a lot to learn from the Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) – 23 of 83 mayoralties the party won in the last elections went to female candidates.
What is more, according to the UNDP, economic expansion did not translate into better health and education opportunities for Turkish women. In 2002, Turkey ranked 70 out of 169 countries on UNDP’s GDI. In 2007, about five years after AKP came to power, Turkey was still 70 on the GDI index, even though its rank on the Human Development Index improved from 88 to 79 over the same period. In 2008 on UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (GII, a composite index that replaced the earlier GDI and GEM) Turkey ranked 77, while in 2013 it ranked 69 out of 187 countries. Over the same period, Turkey’s HDI rank also improved from 83 to 69. Despite an overall increase in income and access to education and health care, the Turkish government has largely failed to improve the status of women and reduce persisting gender inequalities, especially with respect to women’s participation in the labor force and political empowerment.
While this sorry record reflects poorly on the AKP governments, it should not be used to forget the long history of struggles for Turkish women. Turkey was one of the worse places in the world to be a woman before the AKP, and it still is today.
Yüksel Sezgin is an assistant professor of political science and the director of Middle East Studies Program at Syracuse University.


Friday, 19 December 2014

Our Mental State.

It hurts that we are somewhat satisfied being the symbol of weakness, uneducated decisions and inepititude. Offcourse, it's nice for someone else to take the whole blame, i mean yeah! we can blame the world for defining but then who is to blame for accepting, who is the blame for letting them? We can blame every other person all we want but at the end we played a huge part in getting to where we are right now.
  This war we are fighting is not just a physical one but mostly mental. Our mental state. The world and this context, especially African women have agreed to the society's idea of who and what a woman is in some way. I mean yes we can go out and claim that we are feminist because we have the kids and the job or because we let our hair grow natural and so on. The real question is where are the female inventors and ground breaking scientists coming up with cures being role models to the little, anxious girl in secondary school who is most excited when she is in chemistry class or that get inspired just by looking up at the sky, but nooo we can't stay too long in school studying those kind of courses cause then who is going to be left to marry us, while, those that dare to take up this courses then move on to be frustrated by the same society that is supposed to be embracing them.
  Let me tell you were a lot of us are failing. I often hear guys say "I'm looking for a reserved girl, or oh! she stays with her folks she's definitely the marriageble type a good girl". They sure didn't come up with that on their own. So where are the mothers, aunties teaching what really to look for in a lady, not naive, gullible, submissive and obedience, which mum will not freak out when they see their son come in with a lady that has a strong opinion of what she wants her home to look like. Do you know that men are attracted to omen like their mothers. Granted our moms and their moms before that did not teach them any better. So we have refused to teach our kids to dream , dream beyond society limitations. We have let the word feminist to even exist and noe become irky in conversations. Well at least we get to go school around here right? Still it won't hurt to move forward and allow these girls use  them to build skyscrappers and walk through the glass doors of their companies instead of just having a flashy marriage resume.
We need people and i don't mean 5 or 10 amoungst millions though that's a start to pave the way for those budding girls, those that have have tuned out the world telling them they've got "big eyes" or how impossible their dreams are and question them at every turn. They want it and they are willing to do the work for it. They are wondering if they'll need to sleep with everyone who they give a proposal to or if they must take on a male business partner before they can be taken seriously. All they need is a chance to prove themselves.
Yes,there is a movement though not as loud as it needs to be, or fast because most of us are too ashamed to stand with this cause which is our birth right, and yes we now have songs, books, papers, calling us out to this remarkable awakening but still they are still those of those tht are letting people use the word "feminist" as an inside joke for women that are either are sucessful and strong that it intimidates or threaten their egos or for those ladies that are either unattractive or unmarried. We will keep sharing the joke until our daughters can't even say the word "feminist" because then it has become a curse word.
We need to fight it little by little but everyday, it could be as small as giving a thumbs up! and a sacarstic smile to that lady that says "you drive like a lady" or do something like a lady to tell them we are glad we are the best at whatever we do. When you here someone explain with "oh it's cause she's a woman" nicely say "Your mom is a woman".

Finally, i would like to say amounggst every division that humans have found to fight about in the world Race, religion, countries when it comes to gender we are not struggling for supremacy, we are just asking for Equality. How hard is that?

By George Agba

Men Urged To Uphold Women’s Rights

By Joseph Nashion

MARIDI, 11 December 2014 [Gurtong] – Men have been urged to refrain from practices that infringe on the rights of women in Western Equatoria State.

Speaking when he graced celebrations to mark the 16 days of activism against sexual and gender based violence on Monday at the bus park in Maridi town, Maridi Diocesan Bishop Justin Badi said women form a major component of the society.

He encouraged both men and women to embrace ways of solving issues rather than resorting to violence.

"We the people of Maridi should learn to respect our rights and to manage our own feelings, including loving our spouses. By so doing, cases of domestic violence will be greatly reduced”, he said.

The bishop urged area residents to uphold peace, saying it is the backbone of a successful society that is devoid of violence.

“ I also appeal to everyone in this society to stop coercing girls into forced marriages as it is a form of violence against women”, he said.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Women's rights body calls for regulating app-based cab service

New Delhi: A women's rights body has called for regulating operations of mobile application-based taxi services in the country in the wake of alleged rape of a 27-year-old finance executive by a Uber cab driver.
"This incident not only reminds us of the harrowing Nirbhaya case but also tells us clearly that women's safety is an issue that gets compromised time and again, fails to get addressed in a decisive manner it needs to be and is still far from being a priority for any government in power," said Indira Jaising, Executive Director of Lawyers' Collective Women's Rights Initiative.
"We are disappointed to see the attitude of government and internal disagreements on how to deal with foreign corporations like Uber, who are not only flouting norms but take refuge in the fine print that the drivers conduct and in this criminal offence is not the responsibility of the company," said Jaising, also a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India.
She was speaking at the launch of two legal resource books in Hindi titled, "Locating the survivor in the Indian Criminal Justice System: Decoding the Law" and "A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Violence".
During the launch, British High Commissioner to India James Bevan said, "No one would seriously contest that women and girls face huge problems in India. But nor can one contest that there has been significant progress in this country over the last two years in tackling those problems."
He lauded the role of individuals in the Indian legal system fighting for women's rights, bureaucrats, non-governmental organisations, among others.
Highlighting that feminism should be for everyone, Bevan said, "It is the radical notion that women are people. I am proud to call myself a Feminist.
"There is a magic bullet for development which is educating women," he said, adding, educated girls become empowered women and they make their own future.
The two books, which navigate through the criminal justice system and locate the survivor in the Indian criminal justice system, have been published by the Lawyers' Collective and co-published by the British High Commission.