Sharia Coming To Turkey Alert: “Women condemn Turkey constitution,” by Sarah Rainsford for the BBC:
Women’s groups in Turkey have condemned a new draft constitution, saying it sets the country back years in terms of gender equality.
A new constitution is being prepared to replace the current one, introduced after the military coup of 1980.
The document describes women as a vulnerable group needing protection.
The proposed constitution has already sparked fierce debate with a clause to allow women to attend university wearing the Islamic headscarf.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured critics the new draft constitution will reflect the values and needs of all groups of society.
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.
There is an edge to this characterization of women as a group that needs to be protected. Qur’an 4:34 says, according to Ali, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.” Dawood translates this as “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other.” The Arabic word in question here for “are the protectors and maintainers” or “have authority over” is قوامون — qawwamoona. “Guardians” would be a good translation of this — thus encompassing both protection and authority.