Turkish woman goes to European court over portrayal as man
AA file photoA Turkish woman is going to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after news outlets portrayed her as a man who disguised himself as a woman so that he could sneak into a football match intended for female fans only in 2011.
Sema Bekçi had attended a game between Fenerbahçe and Manisaspor played in 2011. The game was for female and children fans only, as Fenerbahçe had received a penalty in a previous fixture, forcing it to play behind closed doors. A regulation was passed at the time, however, barring only men from attending matches in an effort to encourage female fans to attend games.
Bekçi was spotted by a photographer during the game and her picture was taken without her knowledge. Social media and certain media outlets were quick to reach the conclusion that Bekçi was actually a man who put on a headscarf to attend the female-only game.
"I woke up with my daughter's squeal the next day," Bekçi told daily Habertürk in a report published today. "'Everybody is talking about you, mom, they are saying you are a man,' she told me. I could not even recognize myself in the picture, I was ashamed. I do not look like a man at all – as [seen] in that picture," Bekçi said.
Bekçi said she could not leave home out of embarrassment for some time after the incident. "We did not buy newspapers or turn on the television for quite some time. Then I appeared on a TV show and said I was really a woman. That helped ease my sorrow.”
Fenerbahçe’s administration called Bekçi and expressed its support for the woman at the time, Bekçi said, adding that reports saying she was a man were later removed from news websites.
But Bekçi's attempts at seeking legal compensation failed when Turkish courts rejected her requests to file a lawsuit. "I was devastated once again when the courts said the stories did not insult me and that the photographer did not need my permission to take my picture."
She said she was applying to the ECHR on the grounds that her right to a fair trial was not granted by Turkey. "I am sorry to file a lawsuit against my country," Bekçi said. "But I decided to use my legal right as my female dignity was attacked." The court has yet to decide whether to accept her case or not.