The Issue: A Piece Of Clothing…
The Turkish women have now realised that one piece of clothing can easily turn into a political issue! Wearing hijabs or headscarves is a common custom for the women in many Islamic nations. However, that, which is a part of dress-code, has become mandatory due to the religious or political order in Turkey. The Turkish women are habituated with this sort of diktat, as the top political leadership had made it mandatory for them to wear hijabs in past, too…
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (May 19, 1881 – November 10, 1938), the founder of the Republic of Turkey, had tried to build the Nation on the basis of secular ideals and values. He did not force women to cover their heads with hijabs. Even in the 1980s, it was seen that the Government had imposed a ban on wearing hijabs in State-run institutions. However, the scenario changed in 1997, when the military authorities overthrew the Islamist (and somewhat liberal) Prime Minister. The military rulers re-implemented strict Islamic rules after capturing power. Current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a follower of the strict Islamic tradition… so, one can easily understand the situation of women in Turkey, under his rule!
In fact, Erdogan’s hard-line Government has made lives of the Turkish women difficult in the last few years. They have become victims of a serious political (or ideological) conflict. Women used to work in government offices, Parliament, hospitals, educational institutions, and courts without wearing hijabs in the eighties and nineties of the 20th century. If a lady wore hijab, the society used to condemn her for disrespecting the Secular Ideology promoted by the State! However, Time has changed! Now, the Turkish women are leading dual lives – they do not use headscarves in secular urban atmosphere, and cover their heads in rural or religious areas!
With a changing socio-political landscape, the Turkish women have become very much active in the social media. They have also set up various organisations and triggered movements in order to protect their rights! They have realised that these are not just women’s rights, but human rights… they have also realised that religion, society and politics are reluctant to accept their freedom! As all the major institutions are controlled by men in a Patriarchal Society, the women have to suffer. Turkey is no exception to this! The society does not consider them as human beings, but as women… more as essential organisms. Even a change in the country’s political leadership hardly makes any differences for them!
From the Liberals to Hard-liners, from the Progressive forces to Ultra-Rights, the rulers consider women as their pawns! Be it at home or at the Government level, the master’s words are final or ultimate… it is being increasingly difficult to consider hijab is nothing, but a piece of clothing!
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