Lawyer Hulya Gulbahar, a founder of the Women's Platform on the Civil Code and the Turkish Penal Code; Associate-Professor Doctor Hulya Tanriover from the Communications Department of the Galatasaray University; Doctor Aksu Bora from the Women's Studies and Practices Center at the Ankara University; journalist Ipek Calislar; Beyhan Demir, general manager of the "Pazartesi" (Monday) magazine; and Halime Guner, the general coordinator of the "Ucan Supurge" (Flying Broom) women's center participated in the seminar as trainers. The seminar was organized by the Media Freedom and Independent Journalism Monitoring and News Network (BIA²) project at Hotel Asko in Batman.
The seminar began on Saturday, September 17. In a keynote speech, BIA² Deputy Coordinator Fugen Ugur described BIA and gave some information about the project.
"The training program, organized in six regions each year under the consultancy of Associate-Professor Dr. Sevda Alankus, aims to raise awareness among members of the local media about covering women's issues based on politically and ethically-responsible reporting.
Gulbahar: A woman is raped every 10 seconds
Lawyer Hulya Gulbahar, who spoke on "Women's Rights Reporting" on the first day of the BİA² seminar, gave information about the "National and International Regulations on Women's Rights."
"Women's issues are treated as soft news," said Gulbahar. "Struggle for women's rights is a political struggle. It is a struggle over the conflict between men and women."
Gulbahar also provided some statistics about women during her speech.
"A profit of $750,000 is raised each year by making 16 million young women work as sex workers. Sex workers of all ages are included in this number," said Gulbahar. "A woman is raped every 10 seconds in the world."
"Just count up to 10. One women has been raped. Two thirds of the world's population is made up of working women. But when we look at figures, we see that women don't get what they should in return for their efforts."Women in Turkey by numbers
"Although many women in Turkey work, men are usually the owners of property. When we look at the figures, we can see that only one eighth of the real estate property belonging to the family is registered under the woman's name. 93.5 percent of the women in Eastern Anatolia do not have an income. 76.6 percent of women in the Aegean region do not have social security or income."
Gulbahar also argued that working women in Turkey are underpaid. Speaking about violence against women, she said economic reasons lie beneath honor crimes.
"When a murder is an honor crime, it almost becomes legitimate or justified," said Gulbahar. "The real reasons of the murder can be read between the lines."
"The reasons are mostly economic. Women are seen as commodities, which can be brought and sold. When they raise their voices, defend their rights and try to regain control of their lives, they are murdered in the name of 'honor.'"
Gulbahar said a big responsibility falls upon the local media. "They have to investigate the real reason behind honor crimes like a lawyer or a
prosecutor," she argued.
Tanriover: Media is symbolically destroying women
Associate-Professor Dr. Hulya Tanriover made a two-part presentation titled "Media and Women."
Tanriover first talked about "Media and the Representation of Women in the Media," and then touched on "Violations of Women's Rights in the Media."
"The media is representing women in certain forms and shapes," said Tanriover. In our society, women are good wives and good mothers."
Tanriover argued that women are presented as victims when raped, and a sexual object at other times. "The Turkish media has introduced the 'Back Page Beauty' to the world media literature," said Tanriover.
"The media, by ignoring and not covering women's problems, is symbolically destroying women," she added. "There are economic, cultural and social reasons behind this approach."
"Language is very important"
Tanriover underlined that the media has two separate approaches toward women, one being open and the other being covert.
"We don't openly say, 'Women, what are you doing in politics? Go sit at home.' But we try to imply this. We don't tend to understand this covert attitude unless we spend a special effort. We are faced with this attitude when watching our favorite soap opera or the main news program. The open attitude is less detrimental."
Tanriover said that the language, subject and the visuals of the representation is also very important. "The language and the words we use are very important and they form the covert attitude," she said.
The "Bayan/Kadin" argument
Tanriover continued her speech, using the issue of the Turkish words "bayan" and "kadin" because it is a good example of the language used and the covert attitude. In Turkish, bayan is a polite, asexual term with a meaning similar to "madame" or "lady" in English.
"We are making a mistake when we say, 'I am walking with a lady friend.' This is a violation of women's rights. Lady does not mean woman. It is a wrong word. The opposite of man is not lady, it's woman. "Madame" or "Lady" is the opposite of sir and it's a way of addressing people."
"You can't say 'teaching suits ladies.' It's wrong in terms of the Turkish language. So why is it said? Because it is regarded shameful to say 'woman.' It's the covert attitude. It's the mentality. Why would it be shameful to say 'woman?' Why isn't it shameful to say 'man?' If it's okay for us to say 'man,' it should be okay to say 'woman' too."
Women at the workshop
Dr. Aksu Bora and journalist Ipek Calislar held a workshop in the afternoon and discussed topics such as "covering women's rights violations, rape, honor murders, violence against women, and reporting."
The subject of the seminar was women's rights, but the number of woman participants was very low. The representatives of the local media argued that women are not interested in journalism.
Speeches by the women reporters during the workshop on how they started journalism were encouraging.
Ayla Temiz from the Batman newspaper is actually a healthcare worker but has started working with the support of her husband. Temiz, who has also worked as a chief editor, is now a columnist. "I would not have been able to do this if my husband did not support me," said Temiz.
Reporter Semira Aktas from a Malatya newspaper also has an interesting story. "When a friend asked me whether I would work as a journalist, I said, 'I would, but I don't know how to do it.' He said I would go to an activity and write about what I saw there. I was a member of a number of non-governmental organizations in Malatya any way and I was already attending many of their activities. So I started."
"Now I only go..."
Aktas, who has been working as a journalist for seven years, started the job because of a man too. "I was employed to replace a man who had been fired. He couldn't tolerate being replaced by a woman," said Aktas. "When I first started and I had to leave the city for work, I would tell my mother, "mother, I have to go." Then I started saying, "mother I want to go." Now I just say, "mother, I'm going."
Columnist Semiha Dediler from a Batman newspaper said: "I started writing after my children grew up. I was mostly writing about women."
Great support from women
Evin Saklam is 20 years old and she is studying to become a teacher. She is also working at the "Yasam" (Life) newspaper in Siirt.
"I started by rewriting my brother's articles. Then I started giving my opinion and criticizing his articles. There is improvement on women's employement in the Southeast. I get a lot of support from women."
Fatma Kavsut, who is a columnist at a Batman newspaper, is using a nickname. She is at the same time eyeing a national newspaper.
"We all need to be more conscious. We should act sensibly instead of giving instinctive reactions."
Rojda Kizgin from DIHA News Agency found a way to become a reporter without studying communications. "How could I do it if it wasn't for my family?" she said.
"It was easier in Diyarbakir. I have been in Batman for the last four years. The trousers or the blouse you wear can be a problem in Batman. I argue with them and try to get them understand my position...."
Flying Broom: 473 women's organizations in the last year
Halime Guner from the Flying Broom, who is active about women's rights and problems, and Beyhan Demir, the general manager of the Pazartesi magazine delivered a speech on Sunday.
Halime Guner, the general coordinator of the Flying Broom talked about their purpose and projects. She said they visited 64 provinces as part of their most recent project named "We are Building Bridges."
"In the provinces we have visited up to today, no single woman said 'I want something for myself.' We have contacted 473 women's organizations in the last year. The number of women's organizations in Turkey has increased. There has been a 50 percent increase in Ankara. We have seen in the provinces we visited that the governors and mayors are not aware of the laws."
Guner talked about the lack of communication between the women's organizations and said this leads to waste of time.
"If life is news, we are not here. 'We are Building Bridges' project is just a little step. I see that the majority of participants are men. I place importance on things men will tell men. Us women have houses. Men have many places, the main one being the coffee shops."
Demir: "Pazartesi" (Monday) magazine is subjective
Beyhan Demir from the Pazartesi magazine said as a "Feminist" magazine, they have been publishing news about women from the women's point of view and with a staff that's entirely made up of women since 1995.
"We are publishing subjective news," said Demir. "We are on the side of women. We are on the side of those who are oppressed and discriminated against. Pazartesi magazine has an ideology. We publish information and comments and try to direct women in the right way.".
Demir said honor is being used as an excuse for violence against women.
"Honor is just an excuse. The men's biggest excuse is honor. As women get stronger, they are faced with violence."
Lastly, the bianet Web site was presented to the participants. BIA² Project Consultant Nadire Mater said that the "Rights Reporting" seminars were held in six provinces last year. She added that "Women's Rights and Women's Reporting" seminars will be held in Ordu, Eskisehir, Canakkale, Izmir and
The "Children's Rights Reporting" seminars to also be held in six provinces, will begin in November.
Mater said that the topics of "women's rights" or "children's rights" reporting are new in Turkey as well as in the world. She argued that reporting does not include these issues, and when it does, it constitutes a right violation.
"For that reason, we need to pay extra attention to the women's and children's issues," said Mater. "We have realized from the newspapers here that the media in eastern and southeastern Anatolia has begun to cover women's issues more extensively. Especially, when compared with the mainstream media, we saw very exciting examples here. And we know this is going to get even better."
The two-day seminar ended with the participants conveying their opinions and proposals about the program.
Sahra Turhan from the Yasam magazine perfectly summarized the two-day seminar by saying: "I have come here as a lady, I am leaving as a woman." (AD/EA/YE)