A naked woman with a knife in her back has provoked a moment of self-reflection in Turkey’s nascent feminist movement.
Women’s activists scored some of their biggest victories in the Muslim world with a series of reforms in Turkey, starting with a revised civil code (2001), employment law and family courts (2003), an updated penal code (2004) and, in the same year, a constitutional amendment that says “women and men have equal rights.”
But it’s easier to write those words on paper than to change a society. Turkey has slipped down the World Economic Forum’s gender gap rankings in recent years and now stands at 126th of 134 – below Egypt, Syria, and Iran. It’s still difficult for a woman to get a restraining order, or press charges against an abusive husband or boyfriend.
A new exhibition at Istanbul’s modern art gallery, titled “Dream and Reality,” features the work of 80 female Turkish artists and attempts to start conversations about gender issues.
What really got tongues wagging, however, was an incendiary photograph on the front page of the daily newspaper Habertürk on Friday: a dead woman, bleeding from stab wounds, a knife planted in her back. The editor explained that he ran the shocking image to make a statement about domestic violence. (Habertürk removed the image from its website, but a blurred version remains online here.
Conservative protesters picketed the newspaper offices and called for court action against “obscenity” and “pornography.”
Feminists are divided: did the paper exploit the woman to sell copies? Or will this help to revive their flagging movement? Take the Globe’s poll.
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