03 July 2017 03:40

March of the women who suffer most from injustice

Today no woman thinks justice is safeguarded in the country, even AKP voters, as they experience firsthand in their everyday life.


At a time when it is claimed that women’s “legal rights have reached the highest point” in the 15 year of Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, the feeling of “injustice” has risen quite substantially.

Every day we witness dozens of cases of sexual harassment, rape and violence against women being legitimised by a “male judiciary” with excuses such as the “consent” or “seditiousness” of the victim, or “good behaviour” of the perpetrator.

Not only the judiciary but also the security forces, the bureaucracy from top to bottom, ordinary people who are made to feel like “a representative of the state”, people who keep silent to all these wrongdoings or those who attack the ones who raise their voice are all complicit in the making of this feeling of injustice.

This is not just a problem started with the state of emergency but has been common place all along. But things got worse recently. For instance, women who go to police stations to report a case of domestic violence can be turned down with an advice such as “a slap is not so important when we are dealing with big cases to do with the future of the state”. Women’s organisations are being closed down. Even a simple case of divorce can be postponed for a long time. Women who have just given birth are being detained under the pretext of “terrorism” charges. Female members of parliament, local administrators and representatives of women’s organisations are being arrested. Because of the “heavy workload” of parliament women’s problems are easily being put to the side.

As the injustice deteriorated with the state of emergency feed the idea of “disbelief in the equality between genders”, equality is being replaced by an uncertain other-worldly “justice”.

This idea was put forward in 2014 by the official Women’s and Democracy Association which has been the godmother of AKP’s women’s policy. Their understanding is that equality can pave the way to injustice, and that men and women should undertake the roles suitable with their nature. This approach to justice is not based on a modern legal system securing the rights gained through struggles, but on traditional and religious rules and regulations, thus opening the most basic women’s right into questioning and paving the way to reactionaryism and embracing male hegemony that suits the country’s “cultural values”. 

Today no woman thinks justice is safeguarded in the country, even AKP voters, as they experience firsthand in their everyday life or see in newspapers or on TV that women and children are the most suffering victims of unjust judicial decisions.

The questionnaires circulated by AKP’s Women’s Organisations during the recent constitutional referendum have shown that injustice was on top of the list of complaints by women. This same issue comes to fore when we talk to women in the factories, in the neighbourhoods, irrespective of their religious beliefs, lifestyles or the political party they vote for. However, this feeling or idea of “injustice” is just considered as a “malfunction” and is not transformed into a questioning of the system or the government.

The “March for Justice” (launched by the leader of the opposition People’s Republican Party in mid-June from Ankara to Istanbul following the arrest of one of its representatives in parliament, T.N.) has been instrumental in the discussions that the quest for “justice” is not just a legal issue.

The women’s movement is discussing how to take part in this march, demanding “justice but also equality”. Women’s “quest for justice” stems from their concrete necessities, not from an abstract idea of “justice”.

Their immediate demands include an egalitarian social order where they are not drowned in the whirlpool of inequality, not being considered as a slave or maid, their bodies and labour not being exploited, where they can freely decide on their future, are supported economically and socially, a society based on democracy and freedom.

If these demands are put forward in such clarity that they can get the support of women from every section of society, then they may reflect the spirit of the time.