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Exploring the Context of Women’s Sexuality in Eastern Turkey

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Exploring the Context of Women’s Sexuality in Eastern Turkey (1998, English)

The impact on women’s sexuality of the imbalance of power in sexual relations is clearly visible in the Eastern region, where a high rate of female illiteracy, a desolate economic situation, a variety of customary and religious practices which are often in breach of official laws, and specific forms of cultural violence and collective mechanisms aimed at controlling women’s sexuality produce a wide range of violations of women’s human rights. This article examines consent to marriage, marriage customs, polygyny and the potential consequences of extra-marital relationships for women as important elements of the context of women’s sexuality in Eastern Turkey.

Pınar İlkkaracan
Reproductive Health Matters Vol. 6, No. 12, November 1998, p.66–75

Migration, Women’s Economic Status, Mobility and Power Dynamics in the Family

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Migration, Women’s Economic Status, Mobility and Power Dynamics in the Family (1998, Turkish)

One of the subjects taken up in the field study we conducted on the “Women’s Condition in Turkey” as Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways was women’s economic status and how this was related to migration and domestic power dynamics. As is known, women’s participation in the labor force across Turkey, which stood at 70 per cent in the 1950s, steadily declined to around 30 per cent in the 1990s. Internal migration – mostly rural-to-urban migration – is cited as one of the most important causes of this decline. According to this line of reasoning, women who worked as unpaid workers in family enterprises in the countryside have, after arriving in big cities, become ‘housewives’ rather than participating in the urban labor market. This study attempts to better understand this change in women’s economic status through field data regarding women’s attitudes toward regular employment, their reasons for not working, mobility outside the home, participation in decision-making processes in their families, as well as the demographic and immigrant profiles of both the women themselves and their families.

İpek İlkkaracan
Istanbul, 1998

Urban Women and Labor Force Participation

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Urban Women and Labor Force Participation (1998, Turkish)

The overall trend of the femininization of labor power – particularly in low-paying export sectors – in most “developing” countries along with the adoption of export-oriented development policies in the 1970s and 80s has not been reflected in women’s employment in Turkey despite growing exports and the strategy of international integration espoused as of 1980. On the contrary, it is possible to speak of the phenomenon of a deepening ‘masculinizaton’ of labor power in Turkey. Based on data collected via in-person interviews with women on personal and household demographic characteristics, their work experiences, reasons for not working or leaving work, immigrant profiles, attitudes towards paid employment, mobility, decision-making power and their desires in terms of determining the course of their own lives in a field survey conducted in Ümraniye, a densely populated Istanbul neighborhood receiving a high flow of internal migrants in a city that is the main destination of internal migration in Turkey, this study sets out from personal accounts and attempts to analyze women’s participation in economic life from a gender perspective.

İpek İlkkaracan
Bilanço 98: 75 Yılda Kadınlar ve Erkekler (Tally 98: Men and Women in 75 Years), p. 285-302.
Tarih Vakfı (History Foundation)
Istanbul, 1998

From Subjects to Citizens: Where Do Women Feature?

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From Subjects to Citizens: Where Do Women Feature? (1998, Turkish)

This article attempts to analyze where women in Turkey – in all their diversity – stand in terms of citizenship based on the data from a field survey carried out with a representative sample in 1996-97 in Ümraniye and Eastern Turkey. The sampling method used is multistage, stratified cluster sampling, involving in-person interviews with 599 women aged 15 to 64 from 19 locations in Eastern Turkey as well as 530 women in Ümraniye aged 12 to 64.

İpek İlkkaracan, Pınar İlkkaracan
Bilanço 98: 75 Yılda Tebaa’dan Yurttaş’a Doğru (Tally 98: From Subjects to Citizens in 75 Years), p. 77-90
Tarih Vakfı (History Foundation)
Istanbul, 1998

Women and the Family in Eastern Turkey

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Women and the Family in Eastern Turkey (1998, Turkish)

The Civil Code putting an end to the parallel legal systems in place under the Ottoman Empire, secularizing family law, institutionalizing monogamy and according women equal rights with men in many areas, aimed to institute the ‘modern’ family. One of the main assumptions made by the Republican intelligentsia was that the transformations intended through reforms including the new Civil Code would spread across the country by means of industrialization, modernization, and the establishment of a widespread network of education. They believed that the diverse array of laws and practices regarding the family that were in place at the time of the founding of the Republic varying according to regional circumstances, religious interpretations and ethnic background would simply disintegrate as a result of modernization. By the 1990s it was clear that despite the various transformations Turkey had undergone, the family remained the most traditional institution in Turkish society, and the effects of modernization were not identical across the board as foreseen, but varied based on class, ethnic identity, religious sect, modes of production, local circumstances and regional characteristics. In this sense, Eastern Turkey provides one of the most striking and contradictory examples of the impacts of modernization and the relationship between modernization and gender relations as identified by Yakın Ertürk, with its historical autonomy from central authorities as well as its economic, ethnic and class structures.

Pınar İlkkaracan
Bilanço 98: 75 Yılda Kadınlar ve Erkekler (Tally 98: Men and Women in 75 Years), p. 173–192
Tarih Vakfı (History Foundation)
Istanbul, 1998

Women and Internal Migration in Turkey in the 1990s

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Women and Internal Migration in Turkey in the 1990s (1999, Turkish)

Internal migration has rarely been discussed from a gender perspective. The literature on internal migration in Turkey has mostly addressed women’s experiences of migration within the conceptual framework of the “family”, “workforce” or “health” in “rural-urban migration” studies carried out from the 1980s onwards and especially in the 1990s, while literature on forced migration has remained completely blind to gender. This article aims to shed light on the experiences of women migrating in Turkey in the 1990s. The data supporting the arguments made is from a broader field survey on the “Women’s Condition in Turkey” conducted by the Women for Women’s Human Rights team in 1996-97. The sampling method used is multistage, stratified cluster sampling, with women aged 15 to 64 as the unit of observation.

Pınar İlkkaracan, İpek İlkkaracan
Bilanço 98: 75 Yılda Köylerden Şehirlere (Tally 98: From Villages to Cities in 75 Years), p. 305-324
Tarih Vakfı (History Foundation)
Istanbul, 1999

The “Natasha” Experience: Migrant Sex Workers from the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in Turkey

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The “Natasha” Experience: Migrant Sex Workers from the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in Turkey (2002, English)

For women who find themselves having to migrate to different countries across the world, the sex industry remains one of the possible options for work. This paper looks at the case of migrant sex workers from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in Turkey, documenting sex workers’ experiences in Istanbul. The grueling circumstances of the sex industry, combined with the challenges of undocumented immigration status, force migrant women doing sex work into a life of health problems, violence, harassment, police bribery, detention and the constant threat of arbitrary deportation. Though debates around sex work usually get mired in the controversy over whether the work is “forced” or “voluntary”, this paper suggests to move away from this direction and rather focus on practical measures to improve their working conditions – citing, in particular, the necessity to revisit immigration policies and decriminalize undocumented sex work.

Leyla Gülçür, Pınar İlkkaracan
Women′s Studies International Forum Vol.25, No.4, 2002, pp.411-421