‘Ideal family’ of new Turkey

‘Ideal family’ of new Turkey

The “patriarchal family norms” are coming back! Nowadays, news broadcasts promote the images of parents and especially fathers who do not agree with their sons’ and daughters’ political views as “concerned families.”

Ten days ago, news about a father of a young woman who was detained due to a political demonstration who slapped his daughter’s face on her way to court was in the newspaper (Dec. 2, Hürriyet) under the title: “Father’s Slogan Slap” (Babadan Slogan Tokadı).

She was a 19-year-old university student and a member of Karadeniz Freedom Association, demonstrating against the “missile shields” and asking for “free education.” The father justified his behavior by complaining of her political activities. 

This is not a unique case: The parents of some Kurdish activists often appear on TV news and newspapers complaining about their sons’ and daughters’ political activities and claiming that their children were “deceived.” The media presents such behavior of parents at least with tacit approval if not with explicit support. 

Nobody seems to consider the fact that young men and women should be seen as individuals who are free to choose their political views and activities. The parents are being portrayed as “concerned families” and the youth as “troublemakers” or “victims of deception.” Then why was the voting age reduced to 18? One wonders!

Once again the “Turkish family” is expected to be the home of good “discipline” with a strong father figure, for new generations, even after their children became adults. This is truer for Kurdish families, of course. Kurdish families are often called by politicians to control their sons and daughters, to put pressure and to convince them to give up their radical politics. In this atmosphere, a new proposal came out to take Kurdish children younger than 18 under public care if they were caught participating at political demonstrations and threw stones at police officers. It is proposed that these children will be parted from their families that fail to discipline them and put in “Love Houses” (Sevgi Evleri) to be brought up.

Kurds complain about this proposal as a new form of assimilation politics. But it is more than assimilation politics that aims to Turkify Kurdish children: It is also a way of disciplining new generations according to the present norms of being a “good citizen.” Such politics are similar to such measures in all authoritarian regimes. The question is, how does it happen in a “model democracy”?