Better remove our veils of ignorance…
A young E.Y. praying for more snowfall wrote in Twitter: “Be colder my Turkey, so that daughters of the nation of Islam learn how to dress” (to cover themselves from top to toe). What and how a woman dresses up should be something that she decides for herself. Can it be the duty of the state, some self-proclaimed religious “doctrine-logues” or an officious young lady who somehow was made to believe that a “decent woman” must cover herself from top to toe?
In a society where women are still considered by and large as the “deficient” – often in slang women are referred to in most parts of Anatolia as “deficient skirt” – but rather costly members of the family who do not deserve schooling, a proper place at the dining table or a role in social life, can violence on women be a surprise? In only three days, one woman was raped, dismembered and burned by a man, his father and a friend of theirs and another woman was killed, dismembered with her remains dumped in a trash can by her husband. Can such heinous crimes be considered normal?
Was it not in a Nasraddin Hodja story that “as I never had an intention of getting along well, I never learned her name?” If a revered religious scholar figure of the folk culture of this land can make such a joke, can it really be surprising if the dominant political figure comes up with “Women and men cannot be equal. That’s against the nature of creation,” statement?
Of course, men and women cannot be physically equal; women possess far more important assets than the brute force of men. Scientific research has proven dazzling differences regarding the capacities of various segments of male and female bodies. Furthermore, there is an incredible difference between a feminine and masculine look at life. Men, often, are result-oriented Machiavellian creatures, while women are most of the time very careful of details.
Whatever can be said about the differences between men and women, the end result must always remain the same if humanity does not want to bury itself in some dark ages once again: gender equality. Is it really possible to say “Heaven is under the feet of mothers,” while at the same time raping, dismembering and burning a young woman happens? Is it possible to say “My mother is sacred to me, I could kiss the bottom of her feet,” but moments later want that your wife, a mother of three or more, should come three steps behind you because she is the “obedient deficient” one.
Deception and hypocrisy are the worst of all crimes and sins. If a religious culture is built on deception and hypocrisy, then that is the worst insolence that can be committed against that religion.
Men and women are equal as human beings, as individuals having equal human rights and freedoms. Anyhow, what is said from “gender equality” is not physical equality of men and women, as no two men or two women can be physically equal, forget about cross-gender equality. But all sons and daughters of peoples adhering to any religion and the sons of daughters of other beliefs, including atheism, are born equal irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, color of their skin or gender.
Equality of all in front of law, which is one of the main pillars of democracy, was not something humanity achieved easily. The supremacy of law or freedom of thought and expression – naturally inclusive of the media freedom – has become the benchmark of modern society because only with due respect to such principles, the dignity of human beings can best be protected and advanced. The success of such norms and principles in any society requires proper education and development of an awareness of equal citizenship.
From time to time there might be sensitivities stemming from national security or a requirement to sacrifice some virtuous norms and even some principles of democratic governance for the well-being of the majority or the security of the “homeland.” Even under such conditions, if inalienable rights of being a human being are to be denied, that ought to be unacceptable for all those supportive of democratic governance. In that framework, from the right to education in one’s mother tongue to the right to develop their distinct culture, all segments of the society must be provided equal opportunities without falling victim to majoritarianism. On the other hand, while trying to support them, “sub-identity” micro-nationalism must not be tolerated, and the “supra-identity” must be consolidated. Otherwise, disintegration might become unavoidable.
The gender equality problem or the ethnic, religious or cultural equality problems of Turkey – if I am to expand the scope of the problem at hand – are indeed integrated segments of the overall democracy problem of Turkey. All these problems are indeed issues related to deficient education or wrong education approaches. It would have been great if, like making women invisible by placing a veil on their heads, Turkey could veil her massive education quagmire. Yet, the Turkish education world is discussing whether to introduce the Arabic script and raise students who could read Ottoman edicts.
What is Turkey’s problem? To be able to read Ottoman edicts? To learn to give Kurds their rights? To accept women as the equals of men? To build palaces? What? It is time to decide on this, rather than veiling ourselves. Has not the time come to remove our veils of ignorance?