Headline from MSNBC: “Headscarves slam brakes on women’s careers. In secular Turkey, judges, teachers, and other officials are forbidden from wearing traditional Muslim head coverings in public buildings.”
Despite earning degrees from one of Turkey’s best universities, none can be sure of reaching their career goals. What stands between them and their ambitions has little to do with dedication, loans or standardized tests. Instead, it is the traditional Muslim head covering they all wear.
Parliamentarians, judges, teachers and professors are forbidden from wearing the headscarf in public buildings, even though Turkey is predominately Muslim and governed by the Islam-oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP). Held in place by an old guard of secular bureaucrats, judges and the army, the ban has been eased at universities but remains unofficially applied in large parts of the private sector.
For many Muslims, the right of women to dress in accordance with their beliefs is on the front line in a battle with the traditional ruling class. For many secular Turks, the head covering is a symbol of everything they fear Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan government is working toward — political Islam and the oppression of women.
FIRST, as Samhita at Feministing said in response to the French burqa ban:
“Women’s rights” become a stand-in go to phrase to continue a legacy of pushing nationalist rhetoric and racist policy on communities that are already marginalized. In an effort to “free” women of color, they ultimately reconsolidate the very sexist and oppressive conditions they want to overturn, leaving most of us without the cultural space or actual rights to fight back on our own terms.
SECOND, MSNBC, I think it is possible to re-frame this NOT as the headscarf holding these women back but, in fact, a law that specifically targets ONLY Muslim women as the thing slamming a brake on their careers. Interesting that you chose to frame it around the former…