Women in Antalya protest municipality for canceling play on famed brothel owner

Women organizations on Feb. 19 protested the Municipality of Alanya in the Mediterranean Antalya province ruled by the government-ally MHP for canceling performances of the play “Manukyan” on Turkey’s famed brothel owner of the 90s Matild Manukyan. The pro-government daily Yeni Akit had targeted the play for “absolving” the character. 

Playwright Bahar Hacıbektaşoğlu leads in the play about the famed brothel owner Mathilde Manukyan's last days

Duvar English

Women’s organizations in Turkey’s Mediterranean Antalya province on Feb. 19 organized a protest in front of the Alanya district municipality against the government-ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)-led administration’s decision to cancel theater play “Manukyan.” 

The municipality canceled all performances of the play in the Alanya Cultural Center and refunded tickets after the pro-government daily Yeni Akit targeted the play for “absolving the dirty lifestyle” of the famed brothel owner and tax champion of the 90s Matild Manukyan.  

Playwright and actress Bahar Hacıbektaşoğlu joined the protesters who read a joint statement in front of the municipality building. Protesters condemned the pressure placed upon Hacıbektaşoğlu that culminated in the cancellation of the play. 

The women accused the municipality of acting without any research, as the play did not try to “absolve” Manukyan as Yeni Akit claimed, but depicted her confrontations with sex workers on her deathbed. 

“Nevertheless, the play is an art product and aims to depict the society it is a part of,” held the protesters, and canceling the play would not erase the reality of Manukyan from Turkey’s history. 

Limiting Alanya residents’ access to art in such “devious” excuses and schemes was unacceptable for the protesters. “We cannot condone the deliberate conflation of art and artist to the latter’s detriment, nor can we accept inserting the dirty agenda of your politics into art,” stated the women. 

“We would like to remind you that the past you do not wish to remember is your patriarchal mentality’s past. The story you want us to forget is the life struggles of sex worker women,” concluded the protesters. 

The Alanya municipality announced the cancellation on Feb. 18, one day before the play’s premiere. Hacıbektaşoğlu commented that she has been staging the play for the past ten years around the country.

She added that they would pursue legal action against the municipality for canceling the performance with just the Yeni Akit article as an explanation.