I urgently need 7,000 Turkish Liras

I urgently need 7,000 Turkish Liras

BELGİN AKALTAN - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr
I urgently need 7,000 Turkish Liras A judge fined a woman who was trying to divorce her husband 7,000 Turkish Liras based on the husband’s argument that she neglects doing housework. I’ll get back to this case, but the fine for a woman who does not do housework seems to be 7,000 liras nowadays. Pals, I need 7,000 liras fast.

My husband is teasing me because I don’t do much housework. Actually, I kind of don’t do any. I’ll get back to that also. So, my husband is automatically charging me 7,000 liras. I made macaroni and cheese the other day. He deducted 300 liras. Then the “cacık” – you know, what Greeks call tzatziki – the cold dish done with yogurt, cucumber, mint, garlic, dill, ice, olive oil – hmmm… delicious… When the cacık was late, he added 50 liras back. And also I laughed aloud in public a lot that evening, but we could not figure out how much that major offense would cost, neither in cash, nor in a marriage.

I vacuumed the living room the other day and washed the balcony; I also did some shopping and bought food, carried them home, made tea and coffee. Then he made coffee to make things worse… I don’t know how much all of this counts in cash. I changed the sheets yesterday. But all in all, I really need the 7,000 liras so that I can put that amount aside and have peace of mind. The Turkish justice system considers that these are my “duties” as a married woman and if I don’t do them, then I am the “faulty, guilty side” in the marriage. And it should be me who is to be fined.

Let me go to the court case: Yonca G. wanted to divorce her husband Bülent G. of 16 years on the grounds that he is cheating on her and battering her. She said, “He has been violent to me several times and insulted me. He has an affair with another woman. I have actually been infected by an STD because of his affair and I am still receiving treatment. He always comes home late; he does not pay attention to me. When I ask him, he becomes violent. I had to leave the house; I have been living with my parents for nine months. I want a divorce. I am a housewife; I don’t have an income.”  

Husband Bülent G. rejected all the claims, saying, “She has left the house many times since we were married. She does not do housework. She goes through my pockets and takes money from me. She does not take care of our child. She is constantly on the computer chatting. She is lying.”

Some husbands in Turkey (not all of them) think they have a maid, a cook, a cleaner, a nurse and a playgirl at home when they marry. It is also true that some women (not all of them) think they need to serve their husband and the entire family, most of the time without being appreciated, cook, clean, tidy up, wash, set the table, never laugh aloud in public, laugh silently in the kitchen… I call these women maid-wives. Their minds are programmed to serve, and serve, and serve again.

Wasn’t it “Adı Aylin,” (Her name is Aylin) the biography written by her cousin? Aylin was at high school when all of the girls were dreaming of having wonderful husbands, cooking wonderful diners, having wonderful children, etc. All these dreams were far from Aylin. She wanted to protest sheepishly, “Look, I don’t want any of these things. I want to have my own life.” I don’t remember what her dream was. To write, to travel, whatever she had in mind… I wish young female students could go through a course that teaches them they do not need to serve their husbands, have children and take care of them, that they could choose another life other than serving others; and they, by all means, can laugh anywhere, anytime, at any decibel they want, without anybody dictating them how and where.

What am I saying at this critical weekend, when Turkey is going to elect its new male president? Just watch this space on the best practices on women’s rights in this country.

Back to the court case: Ankara Judge Sebahattin Ali Erdem (This is a male name, for my international readers) found Yonca G. faulty. The custody of the child was given to the father. The woman was fined all together 7,000 liras. This is a first in Turkish justice that a housewife who does not have an income is sentenced to a pay fine. The Supreme Court of Appeals 2nd Department approved the ruling. The ruling sets an example.

They say you can buy a judge in Turkey, but that is, of course, not true. Some say you can even buy judges in the higher courts as well. That is also absolutely not true. Turkish judges cannot be bought.
Many women’s rights activists talk about the “male justice system in Turkey.” Considering the gender equality of chatting on the computer, not doing housework versus beating, cheating, transferring an STD, you can say there is a slight tilt toward the side of the male. Also, I have seen Turkish men lie so well during divorces that they could win an Oscar.  

My housework: I mean I do clean, cook, tidy up the place from time to time; do the dishes and the laundry, (what else is left?). However, it was in the early years of my marriage that I recognized I really do not like doing them. Having been brought up by liberal-minded parents and having married a wonderful Turkish man and having raised another wonderful Turkish son, it was not so difficult to formulate a household where the woman does not do much cooking and housework. But then I look around and see so many slave-women, who are professionals, have very active and successful careers, then they come home and cook, like a chef… I mean what the hell?

It is the same all over the world, in some places, worse. Women do the lion’s share of house work. They clean, they cook; they serve, set the table, become Stepford wives and also work outside of the home. I know the only countries where the share of housework, gender-wise, is at its best are the Scandinavian countries.

Now, with election results coming in a few hours and Turkish judges fining 7,000 liras for not cooking and cleaning when your husband is beating you up and cheating on you, maybe a plane ticket to a Scandinavian country would be cheaper than staying here and watching these shenanigans unfold…