Mrs. Minister, my schoolmate Fatma Betül Kaya

Mrs. Minister, my schoolmate Fatma Betül Kaya

The new family and social policies minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, and I are graduates of the same high school. Our alma mater, Beyoğlu Anadolu Lisesi, has had a “prefect” system since the days it was a British school. In other words, older cohorts take care, show guidance and make recommendations to younger students, acting like an assistant teacher in a way. 

Since I am older than Kaya, as her school “abla” (older sister), I will address the new minister as my younger sister. I see no harm in listing my expectations from her, since I am her school sister. 

Dear sister, my schoolmate,

As you very well know, among the young girls educated in our tiny but historical building – with no yard – in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, the one we graduated from, there are plenty of businesswomen, scientists, entrepreneurs and artists. 

At the entrance of the school, beside the emblem of the violet, you know what is written: “Post Tenebras Lux.” It means “Light after Darkness.” 

As a matter of fact, women in our country are experiencing pretty dark days. Violence against women has peaked. There is an increase in the number of young girls between the ages of 15 and 29 who do not attend school or who do not work. Women are confined to the home. In this awful list, we are at the top among OECD countries. On the subject of gender equality, on the other hand, we are 130th out of 145 countries.

The situation is grave. 

Child abuse is at the top of the agenda. Our young people, our children are entrusted to illegal foundation homes. 

Our school, as you know by heart, teaches Shakespeare very well. As Shakespeare said, “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.”

The parliamentary research commission for the protection of family integrity has proposed this for the family: “Marry children with their rapists, encourage marriages at young ages, restrict the hours battered women can consult police instead of experts, employ the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) to advise married couples seeking counseling…”

My dear schoolmate, my sister,

At least half of the women of this country are very but very concerned with the direction out country has been taking in recent years. 

They are thinking that they will lose their rights, the laws established by the republic, their lifestyles, freedom and equality. Unfortunately, we have enough evidence at hand to justify this anxiety. 

This is because the prominent people in your party, with their discourses, legislative proposals, viewpoints of life, wishes for a religious generation, critiques about our dressing styles, longings for women “who do not laugh loudly in public” and proposals and laws, have justified our concerns many times over. 

Perhaps you, my dear younger sister, will be able to solve these issues, ensure that we obtain the rights provided by a secular, democratic, state under the rule of law and change the authoritarian male discourse. 

Perhaps you, my dear sister, will make great contributions to bring us to the light after darkness.

Congratulations and good luck.

Your school “abla,” Gülse Birsel 

Unity and togetherness in the MHP 

I have been hearing it since my childhood. It would go, “In these days when we need unity and togetherness more than at any other time…”

With the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals on May 24, there is no obstacle now left for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) convention to be held and for the party to be renewed. 

Except for their own selves. 

I no longer want to watch the inner fights and rivalries within any party that has obtained the votes of the masses. I am fed up. 

So, when this convention is held, I ask the candidates to consider the future of this country more than their personal victories. I don’t want them to quarrel, slander and stigmatize each other. 

I request that all the candidates for leadership continue working for the party regardless of the outcome. I ask them to prioritize reconciliation, democracy, law and equality, not angry slogans. I request that they form a MHP suitable to the spirit of the day and the needs of the country, with a high energy and one that has projects. 

Because it is them who are the members of a party that faces the possibility of remaining under the election threshold, not me.