22 October 2013
Originally founded in Ukraine in 2008 and now headquartered in Paris, the international women’s rights group FEMEN has opened a branch in Turkey. In order to publicize their opposition to what they call men’s “economic, cultural, and ideological oppression” of women, FEMEN activists stage nude protests in public and paint slogans on their naked bodies. Furthermore, given its atheism, the group has also attacked religious symbols and institutions.
Although FEMEN-Turkey is likely to face immense pressure from Turkish authorities because of the country’s restrictive laws on public morality, popular indifference is likely to be a bigger problem. It is fair to speculate that most women in Turkey will shy away from FEMEN because of its nudity. Conversely, most Turkish men, who have much to learn about women’s rights, are likely to miss the point and will focus on the sight of semi-naked women.
Turkey, of course, is no stranger to FEMEN activism…
Barın Kayaoğlu is finishing his doctorate in history at the University of Virginia. He was recently a Smith Richardson Foundation fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (Barın Kayaoğlu).