#10yearchallenge: The headscarf issue in Turkey
The #10YearChallenge has led to a trend on Turkish Twitter where women are sharing photos of themselves before and after they’ve removed their headscarves. While there is a huge risk of jumping to wrong conclusions by just reading the comments posted with the pictures, it is still worth making some observations. The difficulties headscarf-wearing women had to face in the past have been one of the issues that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have capitalized on to consolidate its voters. Wearing the headscarf was banned in public service, as well as in schools, creating a huge wave of resentment among conservative/pious circles…Indeed, a lot has changed during the 16 years under the AK Party rule. While conservative/pious circles used to criticize the secular/liberal circles for exerting pressure on women to uncover, now the latter is accusing the former of exerting pressure on women to cover up. While there have certainly been cases where the wives of some businessmen or public officials got covered to get preferential treatment from the government, the number of women wearing headscarves has not changed over the past 10 years, according to recent research conducted by Konda, a prominent polling company...Covered women are present in the public space but not on equal terms with men. And because some of them benefit from certain privileges, and because of the polarization in the country, instead of continuing their struggle against the party in government, they continue to support it forgetting their initial demands for total freedom. Successive polls have shown that more women than men have been voting for the AK Party. The financial assistance given by the state to housewives for giving birth to a child, for taking care of the elderly and the handicapped has played a crucial role in the support given by conservative/pious women to the AK Party. But polls have been showing that the AK Party has become less attractive to younger generations. The micro trend we have seen on Twitter about the headscarf might indicate that young women from the AK Party’s usual strongholds might be in a deserting mood.