Turkey and India among lowest for female rights


Muskan Mishra/SCC

Instead of going school, these girls are doing work for their family involving tobacco in a small town in India called Lucknow.

Sevilay Kelek and Muskan Mishra

In the U.S., most would say that women are empowered, but in other parts of the world, women and young girls are struggling to attain even basic rights.

In Turkey and India for example, girls are still fighting for the right to an education.

India’s constitution may guarantee free primary school education for both girls and boys up to age 14, a guarantee that has been repeatedly reconfirmed, but primary education in India is not universal and oftentimes not seen as necessary for girls. Parents might consider it more important that girls learn domestic chores, as they will need to perform them for their future husband or in-laws.

Another deterrent for sending daughters to school is a concern over the protection of their virginity.

When schools are located at a distance, when teachers are male and when girls are expected to study along with boys, parents are often unwilling to expose their daughters to the potential assault on their virginity, which would ultimately result in shame to the girl’s family’s honor.

These traditions and practices result in one of the lowest female literacy rates in the world.

According to a report by India’s leading news organization the Hindu.com, the Hindu/India rate for female literacy ranks 38th among 51 developing countries.

Social sector programs such as, “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” (education for everyone) are promoting girls education to equalize educational opportunities and eliminate gender disparities, but these initiatives will take time to unfold and gain support for their full effect.

Swati Tripathi, project manager at Digital Study Hall (a foundation works for women in India) told Northeast Valley News that women also face lack of law enforcement with regard to inequities and crime against women.

“Conditions for women is getting worse in the country and girls are still facing discrimination, growing violence and harassment, there are many reasons behind this but one of the reasons is the laws are not implemented well,” Tripathi said.

Turkey has a traditional culture. Turkish people’s social status depends on education and the family structure. There is a big problem with female education. The traditional families don’t want to send their girls to school, because they believe the girls should live at home, and the women can’t work like the men. The family structure is usually patriarchal. This structure can impede the lives of women in several ways. They must wait and support other family members and they don’t have economic freedom nor independence.

Another huge problem for women is child brides.

Sevilay Kelek/SCC
A women in Ankara Hamamonu waiting in the bazaar to sell her jewelry.

According to “Girls, not Brides” a global partnership organization designed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential quotes Turkey as having “One of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with an estimated 15% of girls married before the age of 18.”

GNB also states that the complete statistical data may not be fully representative of the “scale of the issue, since most child marriages are unregistered and take place as unofficial religious marriages.

In addition, the living conditions are difficult for most girls.

The female responsibilities are cooking, cleaning the house and babysitting. Women can’t go out alone without a male in the evening. It’s really hard to be a woman in Turkey because of the patriarchal structure and the often-severe ramifications if not obeyed.

Even though there are many women who have careers in Turkey, they are the lucky ones because they were born into a modern family structure and they are members of highbrow (intellectual, academic) groups. But sometimes it isn’t even enough to be a member of highbrow groups in certain working conditions.

Baskent University instructor Kubra Erden, has worked in media, cinema and television departments for five years in Ankara and spoke to Northeast Valley News about the difference some women in professional careers.

“There is no significant difference between women and men in business life. Especially, in my profession there is no gender equality, and conditions that women work in are getting better. For example; a woman appreciates working hard in her in personal life,” Erden said.

The male-controlled structure of society in India and Turkey affects the quality of life for many women and is inequitable with regard to many basic human rights.