Turkey Watch

Watching the Turkish nail being put into Europian coffin.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Turkey purges sexist dictionary proverbs

From The Australian

The Turkish Language Institute has ordered the removal from its dictionaries of proverbs that incite wife-beating and project women as the "devil version of men".

The guardian of the Turkish language says widely used phrases depicting women as second-class citizens must not be passed on to new generations.

"Our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters are all the most valuable individuals in our society," said Sukru Haluk Akalin, head of the institute, explaining the ruling.

"How can we deny the efforts they invested in us?"

Despite the country having had several female judges and successful businesswomen as well as a female prime minister, the candidate country for the European Union remains a deeply macho society.

The EU often urges Turkey to improve the treatment of women. But judicial reforms have done little to achieve equality between the sexes.

Many of the sayings hark back centuries to when Turks were nomadic tribes roaming Central Asia on horseback.

"A good horse needs just a little food and a good woman needs just a pair of pants (ie, is not demanding)" is one.

Some, such as "Do not leave a woman's back wanting for beatings or a woman's belly wanting for babies," are still used, albeit often in jest.

The extent of domestic violence and multiple pregnancies shows that the spirit of the phrase remains commonplace.

"Honour killings" of women accused of sullying the family name still occur in Turkey.

Women's groups in the more traditional east and southeast of the country say that tougher sentences against men convicted of such killings have been followed by an increase in suspicious female suicides.

There is speculation that families have found other ways to dispose of their shamed womenfolk. The claims are being investigated by the UN.

The mass-circulation Hurriyet newspaper last year began a campaign against domestic violence, winning support from other media outlets and the Government.

The dictionary reform appears to be one of the fruits of the efforts, along with a campaign by the Directorate of Religious Affairs to rewrite certain phrases that it says are wrongly attributed to the Prophet Mohammed.

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