There is no divorce problem in Turkey
While problems are pouring from everywhere in Turkey, certain people are concerned about the “crack” in the institution of marriage. In order to find a solution to this problem, a parliamentary commission was formed to research the integrity of the family. The commission was to explore the reasons for divorces and was to suggest policy proposals.
When the draft report of the commission was released, it was seen that it was a series of proposals crushing women’s rights. The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) issued dissenting opinions. Women’s organizations rose to their feet.
Almost no reference was made to social gender equality in the most important section of the report. It is stated that the violations of the rights of women and children can only be prevented if there is justice and equality within the family. It is not taken into account that when there is no equality in the family, then feelings of justice and equality cannot develop in members.
Family counselling will be conducted by graduates of psychology and psychiatry departments, it was suggested, but it is also added that those who are graduates of appropriate undergraduate programs that are accepted by wide segments can also work as guidance counselors.
Considering that during the commission meetings, the subject of allowing graduates of theology faculties to work as family counselors, then it is obvious that there is a desire to base family counselling services on a religious foundation. How can a theologian solve psychological or cultural issues? Besides, there are counselling services within the offices of the mufti for families who seek it.
There is a move to force couples who want to get a divorce to take counselling services. On top of the burden of the family, as well as pressure from relatives and the neighborhood, a legal pressure is also added.
There are proposals that can be considered as encouragement for child marriages and the elimination of alimony and the share of property rights for women. In child abuse cases, the way to reconciliation between the family of the child and the abuser under the supervision of the state is opened.
Nobody knows its relevance to the integrity of the family, but there is an awful proposal on the last name of the married woman: “A legal arrangement should be made for the selection of a joint last name.” In Turkey today, how many men would accept the woman’s last name as the family name? Such an arrangement would totally remove all the efforts exerted up until today.
The aim of this report that sends the gains of 100-year long struggle in women’s rights into the garbage is to prevent divorces.
As matter of fact, there is the much more serious issue of not being able to divorce in this country, rather than the issue of divorce.
In this country, women cannot divorce because of the fear that they will be killed; they continue to be battered. In this country, women are raped in the family; they cannot raise their voices, and they cannot divorce. In this country, women cannot divorce because they are fighting poverty. In this country, women cannot divorce due to the sexist division of labor; they can only find low paid and unstable jobs. In this country, women cannot divorce because they cannot receive free daycare services.
In this country, women cannot divorce because they are afraid of how society will react. Society never shuts up.
These proposals are only good for maintaining bad marriages for the sake of “protecting the family.” Because women are subject to maltreatment, they will be more and more squeezed within marriage. Children who grow up in this suffocating environment will be the victim or the source of the same suffocation when they are grownups.
The report that has been prepared with the attitude that men are superior is truly frightening. It is problematic that the press has focused only on the child abuse sections of the report. As a matter of fact, in almost all the matters concerning women, there is an intentional silence.
A society built on inequalities means a society built on hierarchy. This draft of a report places the man at the very top in the hierarchy. The proposals are toward removing all the legislation that curbs the superiority of men.
But they will not be able to make all the women in this country dream of such a society. Women will not give back the gains of years on a gold plate. Thousands of women who have fought for these rights, millions of women equipped with these rights will not agree to this transformation. If their rights are taken from them, then a women’s revolution will again come and knock at the door.