Turkish Neighborhood Files Complaint Against Woman for Wearing Shorts in Her Home

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Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
FRANCES MARTEL

Authorities received complaints from a neighborhood in Ankara, Turkey, this week demanding a local woman shut her curtains if she continues to wear shorts in her private home.

The incident is the latest in the rapidly Islamicizing country in which women have been subject to abuse and persecution for being “immodest,” or violating Sharia law.

According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, the woman, identified only as “T.E.,” had received a number of harassing messages on social media and was threatened with “monitoring” from neighbors. T.E. received complaints from the manager of her building, according to her statement on social media.

“I am constantly being monitored and abused at my house near Kızılay, where I have been living for around a year, by workers at the front, people living in the apartment building nearby, and by the son of my neighbor,” she reportedly wrote in a social media post. “Now those who monitor my home because I wear shorts have complained about me to the building manager. The manager has warned me to keep my curtains closed for my own sake.”

Hurriyet does not explain why the woman has been allegedly “monitored and abused” for so long before wearing shorts in her home this week.

While the incident has yet to result in violence, Turkey has seen a spike in morality vigilantes targeting women who violate Islamic dress customs despite its decades of stridently secular rule. In June, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a Turkish man beat a woman on public transportation for wearing shorts during Ramadan. Following his arrest, the man claimed to have been “provoked” by the woman’s shorts.

The man was sentenced to nearly four years in prison this week, according to Hurriyet.

In a similar incident last year, a group of women dressed in burqas tackled and beat a pregnant woman in public for allegedly wearing “revealing” clothing. “Why are you wearing revealing clothes? You are a coup supporter and a Gülenist,” the mob yelled while they beat the woman, referring to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of having orchestrated the failed coup against him last year.

Supporters of Erdogan, an Islamist who has promoted the spread of Islam to Europe and Latin America, have physically attacked women’s rallies, beating participants for expressing themselves publicly, and Erdogan government supporters have moved to ban anti-Islamic activities such as the annual Istanbul LGBT pride parade.

Erdogan has previously objected to the concept of “moderate Islam,” arguing, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” He has also called the use of birth control by Muslim couples as “treason” and urged Muslims to have at least three children to create a “dynamic” population. Regarding the role of women in society, Erdogan said in remarks in 2016 that equality between men and women was impossible. “You cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature because their nature is different,” he argued.

“Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women [in society]: Motherhood. Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood,” he concluded.

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