Can’t do away with a bunch of flowers

Can’t do away with a bunch of flowers

Turkey has an acute problem. Ethnic Kurds, non-Muslims, non-Sunni Muslims, women, disabled people, everyone suffers from a chronic problem: The lack of a democratic culture. Should we assume that women have all become very happy because they were presented with flowers over the weekend, while husbands and boyfriends took a few of them out to dinner and while those in power delivered lofty statements about “heaven being under the feet of mothers”?

I would not have remembered that Sunday was International Women’s Day if I had not come across the Pinocchio with an almond moustache talking in the street vendor style. Will marking such a day change anything in this country?

Sending a bouquet of flowers or inviting them to dinner cannot solve the many problems of Turkish women, as women’s problem are in essence little different from men’s or children’s problems, or the problems of ethnic, religious, or cultural minorities. A resolution to the Kurdish problem – if can be achieved – will perhaps help defuse the officious efforts of deputies to create a “police state” demanded by their absolute patron. Consolidation of the climate of democracy in the country would of course have a positive impact not only on the living conditions of women, but also on men and children.

Wider and consolidated democracy will mean justice becoming more independent of political manipulation, and therefore more trustworthy. Confidence in justice will make it more difficult for allegiant “journalists” to concoct phony suicide stories to serve the designs of the absolute chief. Not only will scores of newspapers carrying the same headline, but the eight or more columnists giving exactly the same heading to their articles on the same day will no longer be defendable with “advanced democracy.”

Unfortunately, the draft security bill currently being negotiated in parliament will turn Turkey into such a police state that no woman with any brains can be fooled and made happy with a bouquet of flowers.

The atmosphere of intolerance, enmity, hatred and polarization has reached such dimensions that a shop owner can kill a journalist playing snowball on the grounds that his front window and thus “very expensive window glass” was hit by a snowball. Meanwhile, someone unhappy with what a journalist wrote attacked them in Bursa, smashing their head. What kind of “advanced democracy” has this country become that a journalist can be killed because he hurled a snowball on the window of a shop, while another was attacked and hospitalized with head fractures because he wrote an article against someone’s interests?

The Özgecan Aslan tragedy brought crimes committed against women to the agenda, as if there was anything new in that rather fertile area in this country. Of course a woman harassed, dismembered and burned by a bunch of vandals should be very big news at all times everywhere in the world. But countries that really bother with the security and wellbeing of their women should try to protect them.

The police, for example, shouldn’t wait in front of the house while hopeless screams for help from a woman come out. What are they waiting for, for the husband, boyfriend or whatever that beast was to finish his crime?

In the first two months of 2015, a total of 47 women were killed by their husbands, boyfriends or family members. According to cases that appeared in the media – that means only reported cases – 15 girls and women were raped, and 31 women were forced into prostitution. Over 640 cases of violence against women were reported to the police.

Violence against women is not an exceptional affair, it is a problem of the whole society. The resolution of it can come only through wider democracy and respect for rights and liberties at all levels. If the media continues its male chauvinistic approaches in reporting such cases, it is nonsense to accuse politicians, police or the killer’s relatives. Who is responsible for a murder? The one who pulls the trigger? Or the one who incites and provokes murder? We do not have a women’s problem; we have a problem of the entire Turkish society. It must be the duty of the Turkish state to provide an atmosphere of secure living for women and everyone else, irrespective of their sex or sexual preferences.