Doctor denies request of Gezi prisoner Çiğdem Mater to acquire tampons by saying ‘Turkish women don’t use it’

Jailed film producer and journalist Çiğdem Mater, who was convicted in the Gezi Park trial last year, has explained that her request to acquire tampons was denied by a male doctor who said “Turkish women don’t use tampons.”

Duvar English

Film producer and journalist Çiğdem Mater, who was convicted in the Gezi Park trial last year and prisoned in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, has penned a letter for online news outlet Bianet about being a woman in jail. 

Mater said only pads are sold in the prison canteen for women to use and she requested to acquire tampons. 

“Let's skip the necessity of meeting the basic needs of women under the supervision of the state, let's say we buy everything from the canteen. There are only pads in the canteen, no tampons. I wrote a petition for tampons, but my request was rejected because it was 'not on the list of products for sale in the canteen determined by the ministry',” Mater said.

She said that after the rejection, she requested from an obstetrician to write a prescription for tampons. 

“The male doctor refused my request by saying ‘Turkish women do not use tampons.’ (The moments when we realize that tampons also have a nationality.),” Mater noted.

“I can't prove it, but I'm sure that if men, not women, had experienced periods, everything would be sold in prison canteens, from pads to tampons to full-length menstrual cups. As you can see, life is very difficult for women in prison, too. I have not even talked about those who are in prison with their children, the sick, the elderly, foreigners,” she added.

In April 2022, a Turkish court sentenced Çiğdem Mater alongside with Mücella Yapıcı, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi to 18 years in jail for aiding the alleged attempt to overthrow the government during the Gezi Park protests. Osman Kavala was sentenced to aggravated life in prison for allegedly attempting to overthrow the Turkish government by financing the 2013 Gezi protests.