One thing among many others that has surfaced along with the social media boom in Turkey is misogyny. Periodic outbursts by religious figures against women have become common. However, these outbursts are not just the words of the extremists, but are pushing into the mainstream.

One of the leading misogynists in Turkey’s religious sphere is Nurettin Yıldız. Yıldız is the head of the Social Fabric Foundation which aims to help the poor and educate children about religious matters. Nurettin Yıldız loves using social media, and he often publishes videos in which he shares his wisdom about daily issues, and sometimes, political matters as well. 

For example, in one of his videos, Yıldız says that if a man beats his wife, the wife “should be thankful” and think there must be a “plausible reason” for being beaten, since “the man always knows better.” In another video, he claims women should not work, since working will make them “dissatisfied.” To many, these are still the words of a fundamentalist who is semi-detached from reality. However, day by day, these ideas are sneaking into the mainstream.

A famous pop star Kıraç gave an interview in which he said that “modern women are insensitive”—he explained further by saying that women are so focused on working that “they don’t even make breakfast for their husbands anymore.” While his words caused a lot of negative reaction from feminist circles, he also received a lot of public support for these comments.

Şevki Yılmaz, a former member of parliament and one of the “stars” of the February 28, 1997 so-called “postmodern coup,” delivered a speech at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University. There he yelled, “The ones who look for women’s law in Europe are mistaken! Since when has pimping become a law?” He then argued that the Istanbul Convention “forces fathers to make tea for their daughters’ fuck buddies.” Regardless of how ridiculous his words may sound, this speech resonated in a conference room of a university, and, more importantly, was applauded by students. 

This new sentiment, slowly taking over Turkish mainstream through different avenues, is in direct contradiction to the Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence in general. The conservative part of Turkish politics perceives the human rights of women as an obstacle to the unity of the family. The movement against alimony is growing, and more and more men are refusing to pay it. There are even organizations formed to fight against alimony. 

According to Turkish civil law, the party who has the economic advantage in the marriage must pay the children’s expenses and some expenses of the former spouse. In most cases the economic advantage lies with the man, since on the one hand many men do not want their wives to work. In addition, social inequalities cause men to be the breadwinners of the families, not the women.

This change in sentiment also seems to be affecting lawmakers. Back in 2016, with a majority in the parliament, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tried to pass a law that would lower the legal age for marriage, basically providing an “opportunity” for rapists to go unpunished by marrying their own victims. AKP claimed this law was actually going to protect young couples who marry at a very young age due to Anatolian traditions.

In 2016 the draft caused serious backlash, and AKP had to withdraw the proposal. However, there are rumors that AKP is planning to resubmit the infamous draft law through the upcoming judicial reform package.

While the famous TV show The Handmaid’s Tale may look like a fictional dystopia for many in the West, it is daily life for many in the East.