Victory for women’s last names

Victory for women’s last names

Dürin Ababay is a former journalist who has owned an advertisement agency for 25 years. Since 2014, she has been fighting the discrimination against women in terms of last names. Even though she has been married for 24 years, she has never been able to accept that her last name was changed against her will because of her marriage.  

In 2014, upon the individual appeal of a married woman who is a lawyer, the Constitutional Court ruled that preventing a woman from using her maiden name on its own violated Article 17 of the Constitution; in other words, it is “against the right to protect and develop one’s material and spiritual entity,” meaning it is a rights violation that a woman’s last name is changed against her consent. 

Encouraged by this ruling, Ababay and her lawyer, Ersel Oraner, opened a lawsuit demanding to use only her maiden name. “Because of this clear ruling from the Constitutional Court, I was sure I would have my last name in a couple of months,” she said. “Yet, even as we were opening the case, since there was no such type of case, they recorded our lawsuit under a different category. It was then that I understood that the system was not very happy about this case; they had not even named it.” 

At the time they opened the case, they learned that two similar cases were ongoing, one in Istanbul, the other in Ankara. At that time, in this huge country, there were only two more women demanding their names back; Ababay was the third. 

The judge handling the case, in the first hearing, took a glance at the file and said: “What case is this now? This would disrupt public order.”

The case proceeded with a lot of difficulty and at the end of the third hearing, the judge rejected the case saying, “I cannot implement the decision of the Constitutional Court.” 

Ababay appealed the rejection. One year later, the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the judgment. But it created another condition: “Ask her husband.” In other words, Ababay’s right to use her last name was linked to her husband’s consent. Upon this, the court, in compliance with the high court’s decision, called Ababay’s husband, Sami Kariyo, to the court. When he appeared at the court, the judge asked him, “Your wife wants to change her last name. Do you agree to that?” When he answered, “Of course I do. I support my wife,” the case was accepted compulsorily. However, after the hearing, the judge did not refrain from saying, “While Article 187 is still valid, I am not comfortable with this decision.” Later the decision was finalized.  

At the end of 2.5 years, Ababay finally obtained her new identity card with just her maiden name on it.
The woman officer at the registry said: “Why did you ever feel the need for this? Did your husband consent to it? Very strange.” 

Dürin Ababay won the struggle after 24 years, but after all, she was able to obtain her last name, which was her right, only with the support of two men: her husband and her lawyer. Ababay addressed the prominent women’s rights activist, the late journalist Duygu Asena, saying: “Greetings to my dear late friend Duygu Asena. I can say that not only does the woman not have a name, but she does not have a last name either.”

However, she added, “A time will come when younger people will say, ‘Did you know that once upon a time in our country, married women were not able to use their last names without the consent of their husbands?’”
Well, then let me put the bar higher. A time will come when in this country, women will be able to give their last names to their children. This is inevitable as women’s struggle for equality continues and becomes more widespread – regardless of the fact that certain people wish to obstruct it. What is to be will be.