Turkey: Konya women call for nat'l sex, housework strike

Against endemic violence against women; sex crimes up 400%

16 April, 19:56

    (ANSAmed) - ANKARA, APRIL 16 - A women's association on Tuesday issued a call for women to go on a 41-day sex and housework strike to protest endemic violence against women in Turkey, where reported sex crimes have multiplied by 400% since 2002.

    The call came from women in the city of Konya, which is the spiritual capital of Anatolia and the birthplace of Sufism, and will be issued from Taksim Sqaure in Istanbul, Radikal newspaper reported. Turkey has been shaken by recent reports of the gang-rape of a 13-year-old girl by 29 men in the city of Golcuk. A few weeks ago, a 12-year-old girl who had been gang-raped by 26 men in Mardin, in Eastern Anatolia, wrote to the minister of justice because all the defendants in her rape trial were released. ''Don't you have a little girl? What would you do if your own daughter had suffered what I did? The accused have all been freed. What is to be of my life?'' the child wrote to the minister. A Karikkale University survey found that 34% of Turkish men think beating one's wife ''is occasionally necessary'', while one in five men, or 18%, believe the man to be the boss and that ''he is free to use violence when necessary'', and another 11.8% said women must be punished ''when they go against their husbands''.

    Analysts say the endemic violence stems from the return to the values of patriarchal Islamic society, especially in rural and suburban areas, as championed by Islamic Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for the past decade and whose outspoken ideology has reawakened the pride of deep, religious, conservative sectors of the country while reducing the influence of its secular and European factions.

    ''In Turkey, the latest debates on the female body have left women with a bitter taste in their mouth'', commented writer Elif Shafak. Thousands of women took to the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last year when Erdogan called for the criminalization of abortion. The premier backed down, but the ''Kemalist'' opposition that remains faithful to the ideology of secular nation-founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk remains on guard.


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