Attorney Yelda Kocak: The proposal has the potential to pave the way for polygamy in Turkey
YAGMUR KAYA- The constitutional amendment proposal prepared by the AKP on the grounds of providing a "constitutional guarantee for the headscarf and the protection of the family" was submitted by the AKP with its allies, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Great Unity Party (BBP) which has only one deputy, to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on December 9, with the signatures of 336 deputies.
The last guest of our series which presents the views and criticisms of different segments of society towards the headscarf proposal is Attorney Yelda Kocak, a member of the Women's Platform for Equality (WPE).
Kocak, who is one of the coordinators of the “No to the constitutional amendment proposal” campaign, of which 625 institutions are signatories, emphasized that fundamental rights cannot be made the subject of a referendum:
"Regulations regarding women's dress has no place in constitutions. Constitutions do not deal with people's clothing," she said.
“RELIGIOUS IDEAS CANNOT BE USED TO REGULATE WOMEN’S CLOTHING”
Stating that this proposal should be unequivocally rejected, Attorney Kocak pointed out that the proposal contains details that cannot be included in the Constitution, and said, “women cannot be classified along lines of believing/non-believing, headscarved/without a headscarf; no regulation of women’s clothing can be made with reference to any particular religion.”
“FUNDAMENTALLY OPPOSED TO THE PRINCIPLES OF SECULARISM AND EQUALITY”
Calling the opposition parties to action, Kocak emphasized that the amendment proposal is fundamentally contrary to the principles of secularism and equality, which are the most basic principles of a democratic constitutional text.
Stating that the headscarf problem has been largely resolved in the social sphere, Kocak emphasized that developing egalitarian policies regarding women and taking measures to protect them from violence should be a priority instead.
“IT CAN LEAD TO ACCEPTANCE OF ALL THINGS FROM THE NIQAB TO THE BURQA”
Stating that the expression “no woman based on the clothes she prefers” in the amendment proposal to Article 24 of the Constitution would be vague and risky, Kocak warned that this could lead to a lack of review and confusion:
"Beyond the freedom of headscarf, it may create identity identification problems for adult women, and may lead to the unrestricted acceptance of all kinds of clothing from the niqab to burqa in all spaced.”
“IT IS A BLATANT ATTEMPT AT ABANDONING A SECTION OF THE PUBLIC TO VIOLENCE”
Another controversial issue in the proposal is the amendment to Article 41 of the Constitution, which regulates the definition of the family. Kocak warned that with the aforementioned amendment proposal, LGBTI+ individuals are ignored while the way for polygamy is paved:
"Moreover, the definition of marriage as 'woman and man', which is intended to be introduced in Article 41, has the potential to pave the way for polygyny … It is highly likely that by not considering a woman or man living alone with their child as a family, it will open the door to practices that make it difficult for women to divorce or for adult women to live independently."
WHAT IS IN THE PROPOSAL
The proposal envisions an amendment to Article 24, which regulates freedom of religion and conscience, and Article 41, which concerns the protection of the family and children. The proposal states, "The following paragraphs have been added to Article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey:”
"The use of fundamental rights and freedoms and the enjoyment of goods and services offered by the public or private sector cannot be made conditional on any woman's head being covered or uncovered. A person cannot be deprived of political activity, entering public services, using any other fundamental right and freedom, or benefiting from the goods and services offered by the public or private sector. For this reason, they cannot be condemned, blamed, or subjected to any discrimination. When it comes to attire required by a service given or received, the state can only take necessary measures on the condition that it does not prevent the woman from covering her head due to her religious belief or presents an obstacle to her preferred dress in any way.”
In the proposal, amendments are made to the title and first paragraph of Article 41. The rationale for this change is explained as follows:
"With the article clearly stipulating that only men and women, as individuals of two different sexes, can form a marriage union with each other, it is established that no other union will be accepted as a marriage union and that the marriage union is based on equality between spouses, that is, between men and women. Thus, the institution of family and marriage is protected against all kinds of dangers, threats, attacks, and the impositions of deviant currents.”