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At the polls

Turkey’s election could be devastating for women

By WITW Staff on June 3, 2015

On June 7, Turkey heads to the polls for a national election in which it will decide whether  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), will remain in power. In an opinion piece for TIME Magazine, Christina Asquith, director of the The Fuller Project for International Reporting, and Xanthe Ackerman, a journalist and founder of the group Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa, argue that a win for AKP could mean a devastating blow to women’s rights in the country. Under Erdogan’s rule, women have seen their rights diminished. His government has pushed to restrict abortion, shifted programs from protecting women to supporting families, and introduced changes to the education system to promote Islamic teachings and encourage wearing the headscarf for girls as young as 10. Asquith and Ackerman also point to a dangerous cultural shift, where party leader’s statements on women have become increasingly worrying, saying they should not laugh in public, go out at night, be seen in public while pregnant, or even that they should be “entrusted to men” for protection. They fear that a victory for Erdogan would solidify his power and set women back even further. Still, many women have rallied in opposition, with more than twice as many women running as in the previous election in 2011. And with the AKP trying to shore up its own support with conservative women, by campaigning on pro-family social values, the women’s vote will be of crucial importance in Sunday’s election.

Read the full story at TIME.