23 July 2007
This Sunday was the big General Election in Turkey. For weeks before we had put up with political rallies, vans driving around with blaring election speeches and rousing patriotic songs. There were fireworks at night, and huge "vote for me" advertising posters replaced the football team banners.
Everyone was wondering if the ruling AK party would get back in, because there had been some concern about this party being strongly pro-Islamist. The big deal in Turkey, for which we all love the man Atatürk, is that the government must remain secular, while the country is generally very religious. In practical terms, this means, for example, that women cannot wear religious headgear in government jobs.
Well, the AK party did get in. But they have promised to maintain the status quo, secular government. Otherwise the military have promised yet another military coup - they will just step in and take over like they did before.
So. What about the girls?
Turkish girls are beautiful. These are some of the ladies we have been privileged to teach English to.
Besides being beautiful, they are intelligent and strongly independent. In an English school like this we get a few - not many - of the covered girls.
But we see a lot of them around the streets, like this friendly group of high school students.
Of course there are also a few completely covered women in the black burkas, some showing only their eyes, some revealing their nose and even mouth. (I've never seen any completely covered with a veil as well like in some countries.)
What we've noticed about these young covered girls is that they are always slim and pretty, and they take great pride in choosing the colours and designs of their head scarves and full covering clothes.
As far as I can tell, the rules are that the hair must be fully covered as well as the neck, and the sleeves, and they must wear a coat or dress to cover the shape of their legs.
That doesn't mean they can' go all out to choose clothes that are fashionable and colour coordinated.
The thing that really bothers me is that this is all well and good in cold weather, but this was a particularly hot day.
The un-covered girl is comfortably dressed for the day, her covered friend is wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and t-shirt, and skirt and jeans, as well as her headscarf.
I couldn't do it. I don't even much like wearing a scarf in winter.
Most of these girls (covered and not) end up in arranged marriages - and are quite happy about it from what they tell us. And then the expectation is that they will stay at home, inside, doing housework and watching TV, covering appropriately when they go outside, or even stick their heads out over the balcony to hang the washing.
Eventually they all turn into sacks of onions - with inner beauty.
at 7:24 AM