Why the insistence on ‘Turkish-style’ rules?

Why the insistence on ‘Turkish-style’ rules?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan approached the issue of women’s rights on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day. He said, “We don’t necessarily have to express, defend and implement women’s rights in the format and style that exists in the West.” 

He added that just like a Turkish-style presidential system and a Turkish-style constitution, “On the issue of women’s rights too, we are obliged to develop a Turkish-style model and implement it.” 

We know that the Turkish-style parliamentarian system does not function. There is only one reason why it does not work: It is because it is “Turkish-style.”

It is because in countries ruled by parliamentarian systems with advanced democracies, there is no separation of powers that is similar to ours. 

The “Turkish-style presidential system” the president has suggested in place of this dysfunctional system is, in fact, no different from this. 

This time, the president will take the place of the prime minister but legislation being under the tutelage of the executive body and the situation of justice being at the command of execution will not change. 

If we stay in this so called “Turkish-style parliamentary system,” Turkey will be like a wingless chicken, but if we go into a one-man rule, somehow, Turkey will suddenly start flying, stay in the air and almost not be able to land. 

This is such an unsolvable puzzle… 

Now, “Turkish-style women’s rights” has been added to this. If we are to construe an outcome by looking at other things that are “Turkish-style,” we should accept that it will be a situation which is not universally valid. This is what the president says, anyway. He says to let go of the West and develop a model with a different format and style. 

This means “Turkish-style women’s rights” will be based on our traditions. When you look into them, the situation is no better either.

In these traditions, there are unpleasant practices such as marrying girls off at an early age or a man slapping a woman twice just because his food was stuck to the pan and burned. 

I am not even including worse violence. Let us assume it is an exception created by perverts. Let us maintain our good-will even if it is a widespread practice. 

What I am saying is that these local traditions are “slightly” far from the contemporary gender equality mentality. 

Why do systems and rights, etc., in most civilized and developed countries in the world not suit us and why do we insist on a search for a “Turkish-style?” What difference do people living in Turkey have, for instance, from people living in Europe and North America? Are we not worthy of these systems, these rights? 

My personal view is that, looking at the examples, the best “Turkish-style” thing is mantı, a Turkish dish resembling Italian ravioli. 

Our mantı is 10 times better than any mantı in the world when sprinkled with some garlic yogurt and paprika butter. 

Conscience first 

The story of Arzu Levent, who was not allowed to go to school and forced to work as a child laborer, was in daily Hürriyet the other day. Her situation is very common in Turkey, and that she has been able to come out of this situation is an exception. 

She dreamt of becoming a judge when she was a child. This is the reason she said she was teaching her 8-year-old daughter to “have a conscience before anything else.”

Obviously she internalized at an early age a feature essential to be a judge and has tried to teach her daughter this as well. 

Judges are bound with laws while conducting their duties but no doubt they should also feel responsible for their conscience. A person who does not have this responsibility may become a judge but we cannot be sure that person would serve justice. 

I have no doubt that a major portion of the judges in our country have such consciences; however, we have judges who reach decisions by leaving aside their consciences due to their association with the community and due to their political views. Maybe their number is not too many, but even if their number is few, it is not a consoling situation that we have judges who act according to the dominant political climate in the country.

The reason is that the thing we call justice is an integrated concept and even the existence of one judge who has left his or her conscience aside disrupts the entire image and shakes society’s confidence in justice.

I believe the newspaper clip of Levent teaching her daughter to have a conscience should be hung at the entrance of every courthouse.