Turkey: Women condemn draft constitution

bbc oct 07

More than 80 women's groups have come together to voice strong opposition to the draft constitution, calling it a major step backwards for equal rights.

The current constitution in Turkey obliges the government to ensure equality for all - a clause that women's groups fought hard to include.

The new draft removes that, describing women instead as a vulnerable group in need of special protection.

Women's rights activist Selen Lermioglu calls that worrying proof that Turkey is still a highly patriarchal society.

"If the government accepts this it will show their ideology and mindset about women and men - that women are a group that needs to be protected," she said. ...

"No we're not, we don't need protection. We need equality and ask for that, not protection.

"If all laws and the whole constitution is prepared with this mindset, it can have a really bad impact," she added, pointing out that the draft was drawn up by men.

Pressure from women's groups helped force major reforms of Turkey's civil code in 2002.

A clause was removed then that identified the man as the head of the household, and obliged a wife to seek permission to go out to work.

Women's rights activists see this draft constitution as a return to that mentality.

They warn it could allow a man to deny his wife the right to work, for example, on the premise he is protecting her.

And they fear such an argument could well win favour with Turkey's conservative, male-dominated judiciary ...