ISTANBUL, Jul 13 2013 (IPS) – Among the many issues bringing protestors together at Gezi Park, the now-iconic site of struggle in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, is the demand for women’s liberation.
Coming from many walks of life and expressing a myriad of ideals and values, the women of the Occupy Gezi Movement have nevertheless voiced a collective desire: to fight the undercurrent of deeply entrenched patriarchal values and reclaim autonomy over their own bodies and lifestyles.
These demands are now coalescing around proposed legislation from the country’s Health Ministry that will call on pharmacies to limit the sale of oral contraception known as the morning-after pill only to those with a doctor’s prescription, a practice that is uncommon for most drugs available to the public here.
Under Turkey’s conservative-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, women are encouraged to have at least three children to help maintain population growth rates.
Feminists and women’s rights groups representing almost 400 people say the new legislation is part of government attempts to impose traditional values onto their lifestyle, and will only reinforce stereotypes about the “ideal” Turkish woman, while stigmatising those who stray from this image.