Women's organisations are worried about constitutional reform schemes carried out by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In a written statement, the Constitution Women's Platform, which unites more than 200 women's organisations, pointed out that the constitutional draft prepared by the AKP allowed restrictions in fundamental rights if “general morality” were violated.
Fear of arbitrary decisions
“Fundamental rights and freedoms should not be limited by justifications such as ‘general morals’, ‘national security’ and public order’, concepts which are abstract and arbitrary, changing from person to person and at different times. That is why those expressions must be taken out of the draft.”
According to recent reports in the newspapers, the AKP is planning to overcome the headscarf ban at universities with changes in the new constitution.
rticle 42 in the constitutional draft would be amended by a sentence reading:
“Provided that no criminal law or general morals are violated, nobody can be deprived of a higher education because of their dress and appearance.”
The changes which the AKP has made on the draft, which was prepared by academics, have not been announced yet. It is expected that the party will publish the draft in the near future.
Necessary majority secured in parliament
According to the NTV news on Thursday (24 January), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the AKP have agreed on the planned changes to Articles 10 and 42 in the constitution, relating to equality before the law and the right to education respectively. Together the two parties represent a majority in parliament and would be able to pass the new constitution without delay.
Encourages violation of freedoms and violence towards women
The women’s platform expressed its worry that the “general morals” excuse could be used to limit the freedoms of founding associations, expressing oneself, organising demonstrations and marches. They also pointed out that attitudes about clothing and attire have been used in the past to condone violence against women:
“There has been an increase in murders of women, and the judiciary has reduced sentences for “unjustified provocation” saying that ‘she wore tight jeans, she wore white leggings, she had her belly buton pierced, etc.’ This shows how concrete and serious the danger is which women face. “
The platform said in its statement that clothing issues had no place in the constitution but should be laid down in regulations:
If such an arrangement enters the constitution, then this allows governments, public departments, unversities and similar institutions to create laws and regulations on anything from the lenght of women’s blouse sleeves and skirts, the colour of socks and tights, the spacing between the buttons on nurses’ uniforms, etc.” (EÜ/TK/AG)