The strong preying on the weak is a consequence of the Fall and is, sadly, neither new nor rare. Yet violence towards women is more prevalent in certain cultures than others. This is worth noting in light of a recent trend in social media of women posting black and white selfies with a desire to raise awareness about the increasing violence against women in Turkey.
The social media movement, called #ChallengeAccepted, spread around the globe when Pınar Gültekin, a 27 year-old female university student, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. Cemal Metin Avcı kidnapped and strangled Gültekin, then put her mangled body in oil drums with the aim of pouring concrete in the drums to hide the body. When a security camera identified Avcı as the last one who saw Gültekin alive, he confessed to the murder.
Gültekin’s murder is a part of a rising trend in Turkey. In August 2019, Emine Bulut was fatally stabbed by her ex-husband in front of their 10 year-old daughter. The video of Bulut’s screams while the daughter begged her not to die shook the country also opening yet another debate about women’s rights in Turkey.
These recent murders and the protests that followed has brought more attention to women’s plight in Turkey. Since the beginning of Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule, Turkey has become more Islamicized and the country is witnessing an increase of men targeting women. But domestic abuse and sexual crimes against women have always been a reality for Turkish women and women in predominantly Muslim countries. “Based in Hatred; Violence Against Women Are Political” declares one site, with a link to a counter that records every reported murder of females in Turkey since 2008. “We Will Stop Femicide Platform” argues that the reason women are murdered more and more often is that the society is progressing and women want their modern rights:
Women, from all regions and social segments of Turkey, want to work, have access to education, get a divorce or break up with their partners if they are not happy, not to be forced to do things they do not want to, and make their own decisions about their lives. This is an indispensible and irreversible historical process. Women will certainly gain their rights through struggle. However, they are not supposed to pay such a price. Patriarchy is the reason behind the loss of so many lives.
A cursory search regarding the hashtag will lead to buzzwords including “toxic masculinity”, “patriarchy”, and “women empowerment”. Black and white faces of women stare back as one cannot help but wonder what the root cause of the violence against women is, because there are no references to honor killings or the role of Islam as the cause of these offenses, or that the cherished notions of these activist platforms such as equality and equal protection under law are the products of a belief system that teaches men and women are equal before God. In the eyes of the feminists, all religions are equal and equally bad, but the teachings of Islam and Christianity paint entirely different pictures.
Growing up in Turkey, which was more secular during my childhood than it is now, girls were taught that if their immodesty caused a man to sin, that sin would be entirely their fault. If a girl lost her virginity, regardless of the circumstances, she was considered unclean and undesirable. The oppressive attitude towards women is more pronounced in rural areas, but what progressive women activists call “patriarchy” (and can rightly be described as false masculinity) is in the very fabric of the society, because Islam has been the foundation of the culture for centuries despite Kemal Ataturk’s vision to turn the face of Turkey to the West.
The feminist platform demands external changes, very much like the coercive reforms Ataturk tried to implement, thinking that changing the alphabet and the dress code would magically get rid of the centuries of Islamic influence on Turkish society:
1- The president, the prime minister and the leaders of all political parties should condemn violence against women.
2- The protection law No. 6284 should be efficiently implemented.
3- Our legislative proposal to add an additional clause to the Turkish Penal Code regarding “aggravated life imprisonment” should be accepted.
4- A Ministry of Women should be founded.
5- We demand a new constitution that prioritizes gender and sexual orientation equality.
All these supposed solutions are nothing but bandaids on a massive infection whose cure is a Man who came to change the hearts of men. Women are vulnerable in a secularist world because without radically changing one’s life according to Christ’s demands and by His grace, the road for strong men to exploit women will be wide open. Similarly, even the word “woman” becomes subjective and undefinable in such a disordered and groundless world. Increase in pornography use, human trafficking, domestic abuse, a racially-motivated abortion industry, and numerous Harvey Weinsteins are all a result of our fallen nature and are a proof that we are moving further away the healing and solutions found only in Jesus Christ.
Even though Turkish feminists believe that progressivism and secularism will be the savior of women, secular culture and Islam are simply two side of the same coin, leading to the destruction of both men and women.
Muhammad had many wives, and promised carnal pleasures to men who did his bidding. Child marriages are acceptable in Islam: “Aisha: that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5133). Women are intellectually inferior to men in Islam: “And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses – so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her” (Surah 2:282). The woman is the property of her husband, because “your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will” (Surah 2:223). Domestic abuse is justified against unruly wives, because “good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them” (4:34). Hell is filled with women because Muhammad said:
“O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)….You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” (Bukhari 6:304)
It is not hard to imagine the culture that stems from these beliefs about women. Muslim men are taught that “immodest” women are responsible for their male lust and that men have no control over their urges. Women, time and again, are reminded that their sole existence leads men into temptation. Families would rather murder girls who have been raped than live with the “shame”, while rapists get short sentences, even in the West. A father kills her daughter because she becomes too Westernized, and honor killings become an act of pride for men to hold their heads high.
As a little girl, I was often chastised for doing things my brother was free to do, like riding bikes and wanting to wear short sleeves. When I moved to the city and started using public transportation, being groped in a crowded bus was a daily occurrence. Still, as an atheist feminist, I thought this was the result of a backward and religious culture that perpetuated sexual oppression of everyone. Very much like the feminists of today, I believed in the world of Star Trek where enough progress would result in a universe free of crime, oppression and religion.
Yet, progress does not take away original sin, nor does it entice evil men to refrain from doing wrong. Since Christ knows us more than we know ourselves, His commands are clear for the wayward heart: “I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). The Son of God is demanding rather pandering to our carnal nature, because He knows that through the conversion of hearts and growth in authentic love, His grace will be sufficient to reach these standards.
The future will never look like the sterile world of Star Trek, because we are fallen, wounded, and in need of divine salvation. The secular world desired by Turkish feminists will lead them down a different and dark path where their precious rights as women will disappear into the transgender oblivion where no one knows what a “woman” is. In a world without a compass or any understanding of sin, women will wander unprotected and unloved, prey to powerful men with bad intentions or believing the lie that she can do it all on her own or falling into the deception that being woman is optional.
In this world of confusion, only Christ through the ancient wisdom His Church offers a path that would protect women from sinful men, because we are all equal before the Creator. When hearts are converted by and through the Cross, then we can rightly hope for a better world for women. Until then there will be more murders, more rapes, and more lies, as more women become victims of abuse, degradation, and mutilation.
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