Discrimination against women in last names

Discrimination against women in last names

In 2014, journalist Aslı Çakır Birol applied to the Directorate of Civil Registry with her lawyer Hülya Gülbahar, stating that her last name was changed against her will due to marriage. She demanded a new identity card prepared in her maiden name as Aslı Çakır. 

The directorate rejected her. Upon this, she went to court. The judge decided that her last name of Çakır Birol should be corrected to Çakır. The judge also warned: “We reach these decisions but they are overruled. Don’t give up; insist.”

As a matter of fact, the directorate appealed the decision; the Supreme Court of Appeals stated that the case was not complete because Çakır’s husband’s opinion was not taken. 

This is a decision that would make spouses opponents of each other by binding the right of the married women to use only her own last name to the approval of the husband.

Moreover, the decision is against international contracts and the Constitutional Court (AYM).  

Now, today, there is no legal obstacle for the women to use her maiden name. However, bureaucracy and justice continue to create obstacles to women’s right to their name.

The mentality behind the quite old, 1998 dated decision, of the AYM means that humankind and the family continues through the man. This claim that the bloodline goes through men creates pressure on women to bear boys and causes the positioning of daughters and women as a less valuable gender all through their lives. 

By ruling that the decision of a married woman on her last name is subjected to the permission of her husband, the Supreme Court of Appeals is demonstrating its persistence in the continuation of gender discrimination. 

Forcing women to obtain the permission and approval of their husbands to use their own last name is discrimination. What if the husband does not consent? Will she not be able to use her last name? 

To give superiority to men in the selection of the family name is nothing more than the continuation of the mentality that regards men as the head of the family. While men in this country marry numerous times during their lives, they can keep their family names continuously without any interruption and trouble, but women are ripped out of their own bloodline in every marriage, embedding her to her husband’s bloodline. If she gets a divorce, then she is “returned” to her bloodline and register. 

In the highly debatable report of the parliamentary “divorce commission,” there is a proposal that “a legal arrangement should be done for the selection of a common last name.” 

If this arrangement is done, then in Turkey where “a girl like a man” is a compliment and “like a woman” is considered an insult, how many men in Turkey would agree to take their wife’s last name? The commission, making it look like it is granting a terrific right to women, has engaged in huge cunningness, erasing the struggle that has taken years. 

Actually, the solution is simple. There is no legal article in the civil code about a married women’s last name. If a woman wants to, without any need to go to court, she can use her last name. No legal arrangement is necessary. 

If desired, a circular can be sent to the directorates of civil registry. 

Thus the right a woman who marries a non-Turkish man and can continue to use her own family’s name will also be given to women marrying a Turkish man, ending this discrimination.