Jun 17 2019

Turkey should fight violence against women, not ‘obscenity’ - Guardian

Over the past month in Turkey, conservative forces have launched a social media campaign against supposed obscenity in Turkish literature, including among their targets bestselling novelist Elif Shafak, who faced an avalanche of abusive and misogynist online messages, according to an editorial in The Guardian.

“The targeting of novelists in this way marks a new nadir in the Turkish government’s persecution of journalists, intellectuals, writers and academics,” the Guardian said on Sunday. “The supreme irony is that real-life violence against women and girls is a desperately serious problem in Turkey.”

Nearly 40 percent of Turkish women face physical or sexual violence from a partner, according to the United Nations, while 409 Turkish women were murdered by a partner or family member in 2017, a 75 percent increase from 2013, according to the watchdog group We Will Stop Femicide.

“Authorities ought to be investigating real violence against women and girls, not novelists legitimately pursuing their art,” said the Guardian. “But there seems little hope of this.”

In 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared it “against nature” to put women and men on an equal footing. Two years later the government introduced a bill that would clear statutory rapists of their crime if they married the victim. Following the July 2016 coup attempt, Erdoğan turned up the repression with a series of purges, including against journalists and the media, according to the Guardian.

Now Istanbul is heading for an important vote on June 23, a rerun election for the post of mayor after Erdoğan’s ruling party complained of irregularities in the March 31 vote it lost by a slim margin.

“At this moment in particular the international community must stand in solidarity with those Turks who, despite everything, still hope that the lineaments of their country’s civil society have not been permanently damaged,” said the Guardian.