The search for a bride: Emergency rooms, courthouses or immigration camps?
Nazlan Ertan - firstname.lastname@example.orgReally, what is the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) obsession with marriage?
After former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu promised that he would help provide spouses to the unwed men in southeastern Şanlıurfa (a promise that was unfulfilled when he bowed out of politics), his successor, Binali Yıldırım, pointed out that hospital emergency rooms have become places to find spouses.
“A friend mentioned it and it caught my attention. Citizens are visiting emergency services on holidays. Do you know why? Not to get medical treatment, but to look for girls [meaning potential wives],” Yıldırım told his AKP party group. “The hospitals are so cute now that they are going to hospitals to match their sons and daughters… So it means that emergency services not only cure but also serve to help starting a family. This is the point we have reached.”
I called up my friend, a gorgeous blonde in her early 40s with a brilliant career and a quick tongue. “Meet me at the hairdresser,” I told her. “We’ll do the whole works – hair, mani-pedi and waxing. Then we are going to the emergency rooms of various hospitals.”
My friend has had the glorious existence of the ultimate single girl since her divorce a decade ago. Looks, brains and a good career; she worked hard, played hard and traveled around, much to the envy of all of us. Lately, however, she began to feel “unfilled” and “half” because she had no children. Now, I wonder where that came from – was it something someone said?
“I am already on my way,” she told me. “The thing is, you need to choose the hospital carefully. You do not want to meet the wrong type of potential spouse and in-laws. My mother, who has acquired a lot of experience through watching matchmaking programs every morning, told me that I was not to limit my choice with the patients, but also take a good look at the doctors. She also warned me to cross off people who are there for drunken driving, gun-related incidents, heart attacks and diabetes. What I want is a good, healthy man with a family that is supportive, cool in a crisis and not too many in number.”
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of an emergency room as a dating center. After all, don’t you need to know how people behave in an emergency before you marry them? Besides, it is the right place to carry out a few examinations: His blood pressure, sperm count (are there enough for three kids?) and all other things you want to know before an emergency wedding. You would not be able to do all this on internet dating sites, would you?
In the old days, potential mothers-in-law would go to the Turkish hamams to find a good match for their sons, casting their glance at a diffident girl with wide hips and strong haunches for housework and child bearing. Try the emergency room now, folks, and get a virginity test, and then one on fertility, too.
No sooner than Yıldırım had uttered the words when Turkish humor oozed out on social media. One website came up with “10 things you can do in an emergency room” – including “finding spouses, making friends, visiting elders and getting cool in summer and warm in the winter.” Satirist magazine Uykusuz published an image of a nurse winking and making a matchmaking gesture. One tweet had a photo of a crowded emergency room, with the caption: “Those who already met girls, please get out.”
The doctors’ unions and the opposition Republican Peoples’ Party’s (CHP) deputies were not amused. “[Through the terror attacks] the whole country has turned into an emergency room but the PM wants emergency rooms to become matchmaking centers,” wrote Sezgin Tanrıkulu of the CHP. The Turkish Medical Association, an umbrella organization that has a strong voice against the government’s Health Transformation Program, accused the PM of having no idea about what state the country’s emergency rooms are in and blatant sexism.
The association said that emergency rooms, which have always been overcharged, have reached a peak with the government’s policies, with Turks rushing to emergency rooms with complains that were not, in fact, urgent. The annual number of applications to emergency rooms is 115 million, more than Turkey’s 79 million population, said the association.
Emergency rooms are also known as a place where doctors face violence from patients – an issue which doctors accuse the government of encouraging due to statements which they consider both humiliating and prejudiced against doctors.
Marriage as the ultimate success criteria
On a lighter note, I wonder whether this “marriage and family criteria” can be used in measuring the success of other policy. Our immigration policy is so good that many Turks have taken Syrian women as second wives. Our employment policy is so good that the number of women who leave work to have children has increased. Our banking system is so good that people who go to banks to have a “dowry account” – some bright idea of ex-Family and Social Affairs Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu, who asked families to start a bank account for a dowry as soon as a girl is born. Our justice policy is a success because some 3000 rapists and abusers married their victims to escape penalty.
Hopefully the PM will not suggest that the courthouses and jails have become so “cute” that people go there to find spouses.