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A Radical Feminist

Hulya Gulbahar

"In Turkey, there is this strange situation. At first we have to make efforts to have a law passed. Then we have to devote just as much efforts to have it implemented."

(Hulya Gulbahar in an interview with ESI)

Hulya Gulbahar, a lawyer and human rights activist, began to work on women's issues in 1978 in the women's wing of the Turkish Worker's Party. She went on to set up the Women's Solidarity Foundation (WSF) and the Women's Platform - two organisations that lobbied intensively to reform the Civil and Penal codes. She is today president of Kader, the Association for the Education and Support of Women Candidates.

In recent years, when travelling through Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central/Latin America, Gulbahar noted the similarities in lifestyles among rural women, who continued to be constrained by patriarchy and a quasi-feudal society:

"We have learnt a lot from feminists in the West especially about legal issues. But only recently did we realize that culturally and socially we have much more in common with traditional societies like India."

(Mehru Jaffer, Looking East for Inspiration)

In the 1990s, she helped organise women to fight domestic violence and to lobby for a law on domestic violence which was adopted in January 1998. She was also a driving force behind the campaign to respond to the problem of honour killings.

"It is wrong to see honour only in terms of murder. It is about girls allowed to go to school, a woman being allowed to visit her sister, to dress the way she wants, to work."

(ESI interview)

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