ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish women are politically independent of the men in their families but socially their situations are more constrained, according to new survey results published by Konda. Also, the report says very few women learn about women’s issues in school, instead most of the respondents chose media as their main source of information about their rights
Most Turkish women living in cities are politically aware and make their own choices when it comes to political issues, but when going out and walking on the streets they face serious limitations, according to a recent study.
The ratio of women who said they vote of their free will is 92 percent, while almost half of them said that they are not free to decide to go out, meet a friend or chose what time to return home. Research company Konda initiated the survey last summer under the framework of daily Hürriyet’s Human Rights Train project, in which a train toured Anatolia to raise awareness about human rights. The survey aimed to measure urban women’s perception of human rights and their behaviors concerning their rights. Pollsters conducted the survey in cities where the train stopped. To make the sample representative of urban women in Turkey as a whole, some cities not on the rail line were included in the survey as well. In total, 1,710 women participated in the poll, the results of which were released Thursday.
The research disclosed that the primary impediment to women’s rights was mentality. The mindset that restricts women’s rights is not just a phenomenon limited to economically underdeveloped regions, the Konda report showed. “It is widespread around the country,” it stated.
The research also concluded that Turkey’s education system fails to adequately teach about human rights, as only 3.7 percent of women said they learned about human rights in school. Meanwhile, the majority of women, almost 70 percent, said they learned about human rights through the media. However, when confronted with the abuse of their rights, most of the women accepted it with despair.
When it came to physical violence, four out of five women answered that, “It is life,” while one out of four said, “It is man, he both beats and loves.”
One of the most striking conclusions of the research was that women considered themselves to be free in terms political decisions. Only around 8 percent of women said they were not free at all to make their own decisions when voting and their fathers, husbands or brothers interfered in their choices at the ballot box. However, almost half of women said they needed to get permission to leave the house, meet someone and decide when to return home.
Marriage matters for freedoms
The ratio of women who said they were married against their will was 6 percent, while 40 percent of women said they were married with mutual consent, and 55 percent said their marriages were arranged.
The poll also revealed findings on the education levels of women. The ratio of women with a university degree or higher was 9 percent, while almost 11 percent finished secondary school and 20 finished high school. The ratio of illiterate women was 10.7 percent, while slightly more than 4 percent were literate but without a diploma.
The ratio of women who stopped going to school after they were married was 7.5 percent. Meanwhile, those who dropped out of school because their elders did not want them to continue their education was 25.3 percent.
Among women who quit school because their elders wanted them to do so, 60.5 percent entered into an arranged marriage and 6.3 percent were married against their will. Meanwhile 7 percent of women said: “The education I received was enough for a girl.” Of those women, 65 percent entered into an arranged marriage. The research also concluded that marriage restricts women’s freedom to go out without permission. Almost 40 percent of married women said they should get permission to go out.
According to the survey, 66 percent of women said women who live in their houses never wore swimming suits, while 47 percent never wore make up and 57 percent never wore sleeveless t-shirts while going out.
Education on human rights
Regarding learning about rights, women mostly pointed out the media as their source. The number of those who learned about their rights through the Internet was 11.5 percent, while 16 percent said they learned through conversations. Books taught 11.1 percent of women about human rights, while 4.7 percent learned from their families.
The research also showed that women mostly do not prefer a gay person to represent them in city councils or in Parliament. A non-Muslim representative follows a gay person, while an individual from a different ethnic background comes next, followed by asingle/childless person, a very young individual or a woman. Those who do not want a woman to represent themselves totaled almost 4 percent.
One of the other significant findings of the poll was that slightly more than 30 percent of women said it was not every woman’s right to decide to have an abortion, however, 49 percent of women support that right.