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Women in Turkey
The minimum knowledge of the Turkish traditions and customs is necessary, it will help you with communication and will allow to avoid awkward situations.
The most evident line of the Turkish people is hospitality therefore Turkey remains to one of the most popular Mediterranean resort states is more sincere.
In the villages of Turkey traditions of a family are strong and old habits are not erased by time.
Though in Turkey women are balanced in the rights with men, in small provincial towns for them there are many bans; the attitude towards them in villages softer, and in big cities – liberal. The main emphasis is placed on a family and in spite of the fact that decisions are usually made by men, influence of the Turkish women in a family very strong as in many cases they are the main supporters of a family, both in the village, and in the city.
Women in rural areas cover the heads with scarfs, the most part to protect hair from dust and dirt, than for reasons of religious conservatism. In big cities of the woman wear the western clothes, seize different professions and hold high positions.
Turks practically do not interfere with private life of foreigners as they consider that all have laws. Nevertheless, to female tourists the defiant clothes can create problems. Big cities in Turkey are rather safe in comparison with others to the countries. Of course, sidelong glances and “interesting” offers are frequent, however cases of violence and a robbery are rare (if you do not provoke).
After kemalistsky revolution in destiny of the Turkish woman there were huge changes. In the rights it was equated to the man. Among Turkish women there are both deputies of parliament, and professors of university, writers, the judge’s journalists, lawyers and doctors; are available among them and singers, ballerinas, drama actresses. Though still quite recently, at the end of XIX – the beginning of the 20th century the Turkish women of this could not dream of everything. It were silent hermits of harems which all life proceeded in a narrow framework of a family. Even female roles in the Turkish theater were played by men, and not Muslims, but Armenians and Greek women were the first actresses who, at last, appeared in it.
In the large cities of mass of the Turkish women participate now and in factory work, work in offices and institutions, edify. All this conducts to the fact that the woman, especially in working families, begins to use the increasing and bigger freedom. Turkish women from families of workers and the intellectuals join in life of society, in public and political work more and more actively.
Beaches of Turkey where it is full of tourists in bikini or even topless, become witnesses of the new phenomenon – women in the bathing suits closing a body from a neck to ankles. The Islamic bathing suit consists of completely closed suit and a cape which is put on a narrow hat.
The women who are putting on so on beaches of Turkey become more and more. This tendency caused alarm in the secular environment. As writes Inopress, the service personnel which are looking after order quite often turn out women in such suits from beaches. But, apparently, the victory will remain behind religion – actually, the lawful reasons forbidding to women to sunbathe dressed no.
Before conservative Muslims traditionally avoided beaches. If they there also came, then did not bathe because they could not be bared on public. However for last year about 25 thousand special Islamic swimwears were sold, and their leading producer hardly manages to satisfy with Hasema a growing demand. Among buyers – Hayrunis Gül, the wife of the Turkish foreign minister. Special bathing suits for Muslims happen various flowers and styles. Their latest version even passes the sun – so that the woman can sunbathe, without becoming bare.
Women’s clothing in Turkey – a policy issue as well, in what and fashions. Since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the modern secular state, at schools, universities and civil institutions cancelled wearing hijabs. However after election of moderately Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan Muslim women became much more free in demonstration of the religious accessory in public.
Along with growth of popularity of the bathing suits closing a body, even more often there are Muslim campings, sanatoria and resorts where do not sell alcohol and do not allow presence in one room of men and women. For example, the Caprice hotel on the coast of the Aegean Sea represents “a modern complex for rest where five times a day are distributed the muezzin’s prayer”. Club Hotel Karaburun in the town of Okudzhalar about Antalya became other popular Islamic vacation spot.
However partly the Turkish woman is held down by still Islamic customs. In life, in everyday life it is connected by uncountable traditional rules of conduct: it is obliged to give way to the man, has no right to overtake it. It is not accepted in Turkey and to give way to the woman in public transport. In mosques, on a funeral of the woman can be only behind men. Especially strictly all these rules are followed in the province – small towns and villages where influence of religion is traditionally strong. And Islam concerns to the woman as to a being of the second grade. Muslim theologians even consider that women have no soul therefore in a next world they do not have the place. But there will be Guria – eternally young maidens of ideal beauty created by Allah for an uslazhdeniye of the righteous persons who got to Heaven…
In some Turkish small town sometimes it is possible to see how the husband goes ahead down the street on one-two steps of the wife and with such look as if the woman following it has no relation to it. If this patriarchal couple suddenly meets same with which she is familiar, then it is possible to observe a curious sketch. Only men exchange greetings. Twice, on the Turkish custom, having embraced and having kissed, having exchanged a word several, they continue each way, and women as shadows, after them. Happens that conversation of men will drag on. But women stand at some distance all the time, without being implicated, silently watching conversation of men.
If “Muslim” means “obedient to Allah”, then the Muslim, on Islamic canons, has to be obedient also to the husband, the terrestrial god and the lord… The feeling of own superiority in relation to the woman which for centuries was cultivated and developed at a man’s half of the Turkish society was inspired “from young nails” – to the boy, the teenager, the young man; and, on the contrary, the consciousness of the inferiority, “vtororazryadnost” spread among the weaker sex – all this continues to affect and until now. The man – god and the tsar in a family. And in society, even under equal other conditions – identical education, the same profession – it holds always higher position, than the woman.
The love between young spouses if it is, always carefully disappears. In the village, in provincial towns it is considered indecent to show tender feelings to the wife in public. The husband and the wife very seldom appear together. The husband even avoids to speak about the spouse, to mention her name. And people around never ask it about it. The soldier who came back to the village from army after two-year service meets the wife only after he is met and will welcomed by other relatives and neighbors, i.e. practically all men of the village, the American sociologist Paul Stirling studying the family relations in the modern Turkish village writes. The wife cannot even glance at him sitting in a rural coffee house in an environment of fellows villager. Only when weight will go home and will settle to sleep, it can meet at last own spouse. If from the Turkish village there go pilgrims to Mecca, Stirling notes, they before landing in the truck are embraced by mothers and sisters, but at all not wives.
Many peasants never go out of the village. Only units occasionally leave them to the city with the husband, the father or the elder brother. Former Muslim solitary life of women is so shown today. If to be exact, not Islam entered separation of women from foreign men and ordered to hide marriage life from a foreign eye. Islam only canonized and finished excessively this patriarchal custom existing in many Ancient societies. In hettsky hieroglyphics there is a special sign designating the certain room for women. A special female half of the house – gineky – was in antique Greece. In notable Indian families of women “shut” in the first century of our era when Islam did not exist yet. Independently the custom of a school desk (a school desk – a curtain, a partition) – traditional avoiding by women not only foreign men, but even man’s relatives of the husband developed at Indians also. And in pre-Pertine Russia life of boyars and noblewomen, though not so, strictly, but nevertheless was limited to tower walls.
The Muslim right – Sharia in details developed, the Muslim justice persistently carried out rules of isolation of women from “foreign” men. To it served a veil, a veil, a female half of the house where there lived all women of a family with children, lattices at windows of “female rooms”, separate “female places” in mosques where the small back part of the prayful hall which is fenced off by a partition – something like a gallery is allocated for women, only below, in orchestra seats.
According to the Koran if the woman appears in public, she has to be wrapped up as a cocoon. She does not dare to show the person to men (an exception – the father, the husband, brothers). So was also in Ottoman Turkey before reforms of kemalist. Going outside, the Turkish woman was obliged to put on a veil – furnaces, to muffle in a veil – charshaf, the long black cover closing the head, a part of the face and hiding figure outlines. On streets of women only eunuchs could accompany, even own husbands had no right to it; the police strictly watched that any man did not approach women, and she had no time to understand, the stranger he or the relative. When Turkish women – residents of Istanbul walked somewhere in park or on a nature bosom at coast of Bosphorus, around them emptiness was formed: men did not come nearer. The woman had no right to go neither to theater, nor at cinema, nor to a concert together with men. The sexual segregation allocated for them and here special places: boxes boxes behind lattices. Special compartments and cabins for women were in trains and by steamships. On the boats transporting passengers through Bosphorus, women from men were separated by partitions. The first two rows of seats in trams separated by a deaf curtain were allocated for women. And even there the Turkish woman did not dare to lift a veil: and that if passersby see her face through a window of the tram car… Young Turkish women in the cities from 11 – 12 years were doomed to solitary life in a female half of the house, and on the street had to carry a veil and a veil. They did not participate in childish sports any more, did not meet in the yard girlfriends.
Contemporaries from Christian families asked parents of the young hermit:
– And where Fatma? Why it does not leave?
– Fatma cannot leave to you any more, she put on furnaces and charshaf, – the usual answer in such cases followed.
Customs of solitary life of women strictly observed mainly rich the population elephant – feudal lords, merchants, dignitaries, clergy. Poor lyud in the city and the village observed these instructions of Islam less. On it there were everyday reasons: in the house of the poor there was no place for a harem – a female half, and the simple peasant, working in the field, not a nadevalachadra which would hinder during the work. “A veil – the shirker’s attire”, – Turkish women said. Peasants dressed a veil deprive when went to the city that there was, perhaps, time in life at one-two women from all village. On the rural street they only covered a mouth and a nose with edge of a scarf if by there passed a foreign man. Now the veil-peche absolutely disappeared both in the city and in the village. But the veil-charshaf still sometimes is worn by certain women, usually elderly and old women.
The Islamic tradition believes that the man can feelings-vat to the woman only sexual desire. In mind of the Muslim Turk who is brought up in the spirit of this tradition (and such among the senior generation the majority), the thought that between the man and the woman there can be any other relationship, except sexual, for example, the relations of fellow workers or study just does not keep within. The moral behavior both men, and women is regulated by the strict code of decencies. The man who is not respecting these rules, trying to establish any connection with the woman outside this code – from simple acquaintance to friendship, pursues, according to observers of Islamic morals, only the low purposes. And the woman easily becomes object of gossips and gossip if see how she exchanged a word at least several with the unfamiliar man. Acquaintance of the young man to the girl if she was pleasant to it and his intentions are serious, occurs only through se relatives. And his parents usually mediate at the same time. Casual acquaintances on the street, in park, cinema, etc. are severely condemned. And hardly the Turkish young man will start talking to the unfamiliar girl: he well knows patriarchal customs, knows that he can meet sharp repulse of men from her family. And if he tries after all, passing her parents or trustees, to impose the acquaintance, then not only fists, but also knives will be put to use.
If the girl’s family not against this acquaintance, then the young man allow to come to the house, to go with the girlfriend to the cinema, on walk. They are considered as if affianced. And if business goes to a wedding, then arrange also official engagement.
The sexual morals in Turkey, especially in the village, are extremely strict. Premarital communications – a spot of disgrace which casts a shadow not only on the sinner’s family, but also on all village. Violation of norms of sexual morals – valid pl imaginary involves crowd mob killings, is punished by death. In 1973 in the train going to Izmir there was a tragic case. It seemed to passengers that one of fellow travelers sticks to the woman in the next compartment, tries to look after her. Having been indignant, they threw out “temper” from the car in full operation. Many Turkish newspapers wrote about this incident as about the instructive fact, without seeing any fault in arbitrariness of uninvited observers of morality. Once in Ankara the watchman killed the young man for the fact that that on the street, at people, kissed the girl. Sympathies of the newspapers writing about trial of the watchman were on the party of the murderer. In the Turkish cities there is a special police – the police of customs guarding sexual morals. Therefore in Turkey never you will see the kissing or embraced couple – the police of customs immediately stops these sins. The driver of a taxi usually does not turn off the light in the car if in the evening to it the couple sits down. He does not know who his passengers are lawful spouses, the brother with the sister or just in love. Better – to observe morality.
Officially existing harems, polygamy, solitary life of women – all this is destroyed by revolution in a legislative order. But former customs are hardy. To publish new, chaconnes, to change or cancel old much easier, than to remake traditional psychology. On it long time is necessary. Idea that men and women are the two isolated worlds sits in minds of conservative-minded Turks still tight. In the Turkish coffee houses “alaturka” never you will see the woman. There are purely men’s meetings. Only in cafe of the European type, restaurants among visitors there are women. It is a lot of them and in dance halls, night clubs, music halls, a casino (so in Turkey call restaurants variety shows) and other pleasure institutions “alafrang” as old Turks call all these borrowed samples of the western civilization. Familiarizing of Turkey with liberties of the European life allowed to these places and women. They sit at little tables, without mincing at all, cheerfully talk to the satellites with which came to spend evening. Easy they feel and in the toilets made but the latest fashion, sometimes there are enough courageous. When music plays – dance fashionable western dances if they are invited by someone from the men sitting with them. All these visitors gazino the N of dance halls behaving, in their opinion, it is quite Europeanized, – relatives of these most come men with them: their wives, daughter, sister. Relatives accompanied by relatives, “vesternizovanny” Turks – officials, officers, representatives of the intellectuals.
But if somebody foreign, at least from the next little table, takes in head to invite the unfamiliar Turkish woman to dance, at best he will receive resolute refusal and will meet general condemnation; in the worst – will run into scandal. However, such thought will also come to the Turk never to mind. And foreigners, especially the tourists not familiar with local customs, guides and guides warn: “In Turkey it is considered indecent to invite the unfamiliar lady to dance”. “It is not accepted in Turkey, – add guides, – and to sit down on an empty seat at a table at restaurant, especially if not only men, but also women already sit at it”.
Citizens it is simpler – workers, handicraftsmen, small employees, salesmen, peddlers – do not visit alafranga restaurants. As well as the peasants who arrived to the city or the soldiers who received dismissal they can have dinner or supper in modest, but clean and cozy dining rooms “alaturka”, taverns – the ashkhena. Here do not sell some alcoholic drinks, does not play here and the western music. And for visitors with wives, sisters or adult daughters there is separate zalik, a so-called “family salon” – “to an ayla salon”. The word “ayle” means not only “family”; it has also narrower value – “wife” or “a female half of a family” where daughters, other relatives and juvenile sons enter.
Even in the city, among Turkish citizens, it is considered indecent to ask about health of the wife, to say hello to her. Traditional politeness demands to inquire after about health of a family – to the ayla, to transfer hi, if you were in this house and znaakoma to the wife, besides to a family earlier.
At movie theaters of provincial towns and now be available the separate “family places” which are fenced off from other part of the auditorium. Here women, girls, Children settle down. The entrance is prohibited to men here. In the large cities – Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir there is no it any more. But nevertheless at summer open movie theaters where places are not numbered, women always sit down separately from men.
When to the Turkish city there comes the popular singer or the singer, except ordinary concerts “for all” arrange also to “an ayla of a konsera” – “a family concert” on which the entrance is allowed only the fair sex. Do not sell to men on these concerts of tickets. The only males on them are the children till 16 years who came with mothers or sisters.
In the Turkish festive crowd, especially in the evening, there are not enough women and girls – nearly one men, young men, teenagers. And if there are representatives of other floor, then usually – accompanied by the relative. In villages during holidays drive round dances, national dances dance. But also round dances, and dances – separate: in one man, in others of the woman. The man’s round dance allows, however, one liberty: in it dance also men, masked under women, as in Ottoman theater actors in female roles…
The wife, adult daughters, sisters are as if under continuous guardianship of relatives. The girl till a marriage the brother sponsors, the married woman – the husband. Many Turks do not allow the wives to leave the house alone even in the afternoon at least for several minutes. Often women go on the affairs by groups, companies – several relatives, neigbours or acquaintances.
All these remnants of Muslim and patriarchal views have an adverse effect on development of many socially important fields of activity. In the cities, for example, even surplus is a lot of teachers, them. And in villages of teachers is not enough. To send the woman it is impossible to edify to the village because of the negative relation of fanatical rural clergy to it and peasants.
In Turkey there are not enough doctors. Even more acute shortage is tested by the country on average medical personnel: one nurse is the share of three-four doctors. Parents, as a rule, do not approve the choice of the daughter if she wants to become a physician. “The girl, the woman should not approach foreign man, be she the doctor or the nurse, and he is her patient: communication of the nurse with the patient at least is immoral”, – Muslim traditionalists claim. It is reprehensible in their representation and to work to the nurse you have with the male doctor: it has to work in couple only with the female doctor and serve only women. That is why in the Turkish policlinics and hospitals you meet nurses more often, but not sisters. Traditionalists put forward different arguments and against women worked at factory or in establishment. “The woman is a family, – say one, using semantics of the word “ayle”, – its place only at home, with the husband and children”. Others state fears about preservation of her honor: she will communicate with foreign men. The third see in it blasting an economic basis of the man’s authority…
Therefore respect Kemal Ataturk in Turkey. It thanks to its reforms in destiny of the Turkish woman were huge changes. In the rights it was equated to the man. Among Turkish women there are both deputies of parliament, and professors of university, writers, journalists, judges, lawyers and doctors; are available among them and singers, ballerinas, drama actresses. Though still quite recently, at the end of XIX – the beginning of the 20th century the Turkish women could not dream of all this, – how many their Russian sisters sobbed over unfortunate Feride’s sufferings from the Turkish movie hit “Regulus – a Birdie Singing” – and the situation in it is described quite ordinary for those times. Partly the Turkish woman is held down by still Islamic customs. In life, in everyday life it is connected by uncountable traditional rules of conduct: it is obliged to give way to the man, has no right to overtake it.
Women in Turkey are great dancers and one of the most beautiful in the world. Very many tourists try to get acquainted with the Turkish women on vacation. Here it is necessary to behave very carefully. The morals in Turkey establish very strict rules of conduct for women. Doubtful communications – a spot of disgrace which casts a shadow not only on the sinner’s family, but also on all settlement. Many cases when vacationers who tried to look after the Turkish women had big problems with her relatives are known. If you know these simple customs, then your rest in Turkey will become rather unforgettable, and it will not be saddened by small troubles

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