Several women’s rights groups and opposition lawmakers have staged a protest in front of the Turkish parliament against a proposal to allow “muftis,” religious civil servants within the body of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), to register and conduct marriages.
Female lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) carried purple banners in front of the parliament.
But police wanted to prevent the group from reading their press statement, causing tension to rise between the two sides.
After seeing the banners reading, “This marriage can’t be registered,” “We are reclaiming our lives” and “General morals, whose morals?” police wanted the group to disperse, but lawmakers intervened and the press release was made.
“What women in Turkey need are not muftis registering marriages. The needs and demands of women are not draft laws that would victimize women more today,” HDP Adana lawmaker Meral Danış Beştaş said on Oct. 2, while CHP Ankara deputy Şenal Sarıhan vowed “women will win.”
“We’ll be standing behind all regulations that support the equality of men and women, but we will oppose any that break it. Women have always won and will continue to win,” Sarıhan said, adding that it is important that women’s rights groups and deputies are in coordination.
CHP Manisa lawmaker Tur Yıldız Biçer and independent deputy Aylin Nazlıaka also attended the press release.
“We have the responsibility of being the voice of all women and children subjected to violence, discrimination and alienation in this country,” Nazlıaka told daily Birgün, adding that “we will never accept this law.”
“No one can make us believe that this draft law is on the side of women at a time when sexual abuse increased by 700 percent in the last 10 years. This draft law is efforts to prepare a legal ground for child sexual abuse and underage marriage,” she said.
According to the draft law on civil registration services, submitted to parliament on July 25, provincial and local muftis will also be granted the authority to conduct marriages in Turkey, in addition to state registrars of marriages in municipalities.
Representatives of women’s rights groups, meanwhile, stressed that changes in laws closely related to women’s lives must be made in coordination with them.