Until we reach the real equality of women and men in Turkey, the road is still long, many Turks believe, characterizing the authorities’ decision to ban the demonstrations on the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day. Many Turkish women feel trapped between religion and patriarchy and fear that the situation for women in Turkey could get even worse if conservative forces are strengthened in the elections.

“In this country, women live under suffocating control,” 20-year-old Defne tells the German Radio (ARD) correspondent in Istanbul. The fact is that women’s rights are in retreat. Indicative withdrawal of Turkey from the Istanbul Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women, but also the criminalization of the LGBTI community, whose members the Minister of the Interior Suleyman Soylu calls terrorists.

Research by the Social Democratic Institute SODEVwith the support of the German political foundation Friedrich Ebert in Turkey, comes to interesting conclusions, explains the head of the research Yasmin Ahi: “60% of women in Turkey state that they are rather unhappy with their life in the country.”

At the same time, 80% of women do not feel safe when they walk the streets at night. Three out of four cite sexual harassment and violence against women as the most important problems. In many cases, the perpetrators either go unpunished, or “get away” with light sentences.

Despite the fact that even the opposition alliance under Kilicdaroglu is not committed to Turkey’s return to the Istanbul Convention, thus bowing to pressure from conservative forces, polls show that women prefer to support the opposition rather than President Erdogan’s AKP. As she says Jasmine No: “In 2018, 38.3% of women voted for AKP, while in the upcoming elections the percentage is expected to shrink to around 26%.”

It should be noted that in Turkey half the population consists of women. Consequently, their vote may turn out to be decisive for the outcome of the election. “Women’s expectations from politics have increased significantly in recent years,” says the SODEV head of research.

Source: DW