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Turkey Hot on hijabs

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    The prime minister wants to lift the head scarf ban. Why are feminists so angry? Turkey: Hot on hijabs Tracy Clark-Flory
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2007
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      The prime minister wants to lift the head scarf ban. Why are feminists
      so angry?

      Turkey: Hot on hijabs
      Tracy Clark-Flory

      Oct. 03, 2007 | Broadsheeters, it's time for a pop quiz: In
      overhauling Turkey's constitution, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
      announced he would, in part, like to lift the country's ban on the
      head scarf in universities. He said, "The right to higher education
      cannot be restricted because of what a girl wears." The country's
      feminists responded to the planned constitutional changes as (circle one):

      a) An advancement for women's rights
      b) Regressive and patronizing
      Anyone who answered "b" goes to the head of the class; anyone who
      answered "a," I'm sure you're a little confused. So was I.

      Erdogan's move to lift the head scarf ban in universities seems
      monumental when you consider that 60 percent of women in Turkey wear
      the hijab. Just imagine how many women are discouraged, themselves or
      by relatives, from getting a higher education simply because it would
      require compromising their religious beliefs. No matter your feelings
      about Muslim women covering up, lifting the ban, especially in light
      of Erdogan's comment, appears a bold defense of women's rights.

      Except Erdogan has other, lesser noted, changes planned for Turkey's
      constitution, including removing a clause hard won by feminists. The
      clause formerly affirmed equality for all; now it declares "women as a
      vulnerable group needing protection," reports the BBC. More than 80
      women's rights groups have spoken out against the change. "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,"
      said activist Selen Lermioglu. "We need equality and ask for that, not

      The draft of the new constitution hasn't been released, of course, so
      it's hard to judge just how patronizing the new clause is. It might
      seem reasonable in reference to certain legal strictures that
      primarily affect women, like the head scarf ban. As a replacement for
      a general declaration of equality, though, it's troubling. The
      activists warn that it might validate a husband's decision to force
      his poor, defenseless wife to stay at home, where she would be
      protected from the big bad world outside.

      But the proposed end to the head scarf ban -- which, interestingly
      enough, the women's rights activists haven't been able to come to a
      conclusion on -- is an entirely separate issue from the revised
      equality clause. I find the latter obviously troubling and the former
      a slam-dunk for women's rights.



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