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'The woman has no name'

Duygu Asena

"Escape the vicious circle. Fight for your equal rights, and get a job as a first step to make equal rights and freedom possible… We've come a long way but there's still a long way to go." (Asena, 1994)

Duygu Asena (1946-2006) was born in Istanbul as the grandchild of Ataturk's aide and CHP parliamentarian Ali Sevket Ondersev. She finished her studies in pedagogy at Istanbul University and became one of Turkey's best known writers on women's issues. In 1978, she became editor-in-chief of a publishing house. In this position she was responsible for the creation of several women's magazines such as Kadinca.

In the 1980s Kadinca grew into a popular symbol of new attitudes to life. Asena saw it as a publication calling "on women to be daring and aggressively energetic, exhorting them to discover themselves, especially their feelings, capabilities and sexuality." It stressed women's economic independence. It drew attention to feminist issues with headlines such as "Equal Rights in Marriage", "Women must become District Governors" or "A Ministry of Women's Affairs must be established."

Asena's first novel Kadinin Adi Yok ("Woman Has No Name"), published in 1987, was described by Sirin Tekeli as a "feminist manifesto". It is the story of a woman who fights to share the freedoms enjoyed by men in Turkish society as well as a bleak portrayal of marriage without love. It became a bestseller, but it was eventually banned at its 40th print run in 1998, found to be obscene and dangerous to the institution of marriage. After a two-year trial, the publication of her book was again permitted. The book was also made into a film. Asena died in July 2006. Her coffin was carried only by women.

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