#kahkaha Swarms Twitter After Turkish Minister’s ‘laughing ban’ on women.

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With only ten days to go until Turkey’s elections, controversial remarks made by the country’s deputy prime minister over female modesty causes outrage.

In regards to the issue of “moral decline” in the country, Bülent Arinc, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, and co-founder of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has sparked anger over his attack on women.

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According to Channel 4 news, Arinc at a gathering for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr, stated, “[A woman] should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.” Inevitably, there has been a backlash on social media, fueling anger about AKP’s views on women.

Where do AKP stand on the question of women?

Controversial remarks made by AKP ministers about women are not  uncommon. In 2010 prime minister Tayyip Erdogan asserted his opinion that,“women and men are not equal. They only complement each other”. AKP has been accused by many for being sexist, and for not being concerned about the treatment of women in Turkey. In the 2013 Gender Equality report of the World Economic Forum Turkey ranked in 120th position among a total of 136 countries.

Will This Affect the Election Result?

Arinc’s speech has so far inspired many to retaliate via social media, however AKP remains a strong political party in Turkey reaping in support from conservative Turks. Many however fear for Turkey’s future under Erdogan’s presidency.

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The Importance of A Grandmother

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In response to The Daily Post on whether there should be another day in order of a special relative, my answer is yes, a day dedicated to grandparents, or in my case, my lovely grandmother. I call mine “annane” (Turkish for grandma). It literally means mother’s mother.

Now I can only speak from my own experience with my grandma. I understand that there aren’t many people who are that close to their grandparents, and truthfully I find that a little sad. I don’t know if it’s down to culture and different ideas on what family is. In my culture family is very important, especially family elders. Grandparents are seen as wise and special, and people you should always be respectful towards. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my “annane”, and so have my siblings. She practically brought us up – of course my mum did too, but my mum’s always been hard at work providing for the family as long as I can remember…and my dad…well not so much. In my opinion grandmothers are like second mothers, and my grandmother certainly is. No one’s love feels as warm and gentle as a grandma’s love. There’s just something special about them. Something kinda magical. My “annane” is the sweetest woman ever, but that isn’t to say she isn’t tough. I love that about her, and I love that combination of sweetness and “I don’t give a damn” confidence that comes with age. I’d love to be a grandmother one day. I’m not really scared of aging.

For me grandmothers deserve a day of their own, because they are such strong people. My grandmother came to London when she was in her early 20’s with FIVE kids! Yes five…two more soon to be on the way. She also had an abusive husband who she had never wanted to marry in the first place. At a young age she was basically kidnapped and made to marry him. She came from a remote village in Dersim, north-east Turkey. Eventually she left her husband. Today she’s almost always coming to visit us, and still as passionate and full of energy as ever, with a total of 7 kids, 12 grandchildren plus one on the way, and two great grandchildren at the ripe old age of 62. A phenomenal woman she is!

Turkey: A History of Sexual Violence

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This is an article I wrote a while ago for The Guardian’s International Development Journalism Competition. I was very proud that it was successful in being shortlisted for the competition as it’s an issue very close to my heart. I’m also glad that in some way the issue gained some public attention, even if only a little. Horrendous issues such as this go unheard of for too long in Turkey, and many other countries in the world. The article contains some graphic imagery. As Angelina Jolie has been urging more action to be carried out against sexual violence in war torn countries, I felt the need to post my article as it relates to the issue.

 

The rape and torture of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey are disturbingly commonplace.

“I was blindfolded, stripped naked, beaten…and they tried to put sticks up my anus. I fainted,” stated 37-year-old mother of three, Hamdiye Aslan.

Hamdiye Aslan’s alleged perpetrators were five police officers. According to a report from Amnesty International in 2003, she had been detained in Mardin Prison, south-east Turkey, for almost three months in which she was reportedly blindfolded, anally raped with a truncheon, threatened and mocked by officers.

Horrific and shocking as it may sound, activists state that Hamdiye’s case is one of many.

They say that such methods of abuse are regular practice in Turkish prisons, and have reportedly been used on many Kurdish and Alevi women to enforce fear and to humiliate. Hamdiye was told she was being arrested for sheltering the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK; a charge she denied.

Reporting on cases of sexual abuse in Turkey is often difficult; the issue is still taboo in Turkish culture, as well as the fact that much of Turkish media don’t report on such cases as they tarnish the country’s modern and secular image. The result of this is that many injustices within Turkey, including systematic rapes carried out in prisons to maintain power over communities, go unheard by the rest of the world.

In the early hours of June 28, 1993, Şükran Esen, then aged 21, was accused of assisting the PKK by a group of gendarmes who had arrived at her house. She too denied the charges. A trial observation report by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) states that, in an aggravated felony court in the province of Mardin, a prosecutor indicted 405 members of the Derik District Gendarmerie Command, 65 of whom were senior officers, for raping Şükran Esen.

The victim stated that on the three occasions that she was detained she was: raped vaginally by the gendarmes and their officer; given electric shocks; put inside a vehicle tyre and rolled over; subjected to high pressure jet sprays of cold water; and threatened with death. On one occasion, as a result of the sadistic sexual violence, she was finally taken to hospital whilst haemorrhaging. Esen was blindfolded throughout the ordeal and was never able to recognise her perpetrators. Although nine witnesses testified to the arrest of the victim by the gendarme, the accused not only denied committing the alleged offences, but failed to acknowledge that Şükran Esen had ever been detained. A medical report from the International Berlin Torture and Rehabilitation Centre, where Esen had undergone treatment, certified that her injuries were the result of torture.

Both the women’s cases offer examples as to why Turkey has been denied entry into the EU by the European Commission due to the country’s human rights issues. The Turkish State classifies the activities of many pro-Kurdish organisations as ‘terrorism’ because they’re viewed as damaging the state. As a result of this, there have been many cases of Kurdish women allegedly sexually abused while in custody on accusations of being associated with such organisations.

There have been reports of women and children raped with serrated objects, beaten, and forced into so-called ‘virginity tests’ by government officials.

In April this year, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hailed the withdrawal of PKK rebels from Turkey as the end of “a dark era” and stated: “Turkey is changing its ill fortune and is entering a new phase.” However as sexual violence against women, men and children by state agents remains both common and unmitigated, this promise of a change comes with a dark cloud of doubt looming over it. It’s poignant to question whether Turkey’s idea of fighting terrorism is being used, as it has previously around the world, to undermine human rights in more concealed ways.

The Turkish State doesn’t appear to openly accept its bloody history; the most recent incident being the Uludere massacre in 2011 where Turkish warplanes bombed teenage Kurds crossing into Turkey from Iraq. As time unravels, reports of rape during the systematic ethnic cleansing of Kurdish and Alevi people in the 1937 Dersim massacre have also come to light, though remain unpublicised.

Amnesty International’s 2003 campaign, ‘End Sexual Violence against Women in Custody’ highlighted the “state’s inability to implement its own new legal code and its failure to act with due diligence when complaints are made.” Furthermore, stating that there is “a general climate of impunity for those suspected of torture in Turkey.”

Recent years have revealed that children too are subject to sexual violence in Turkish prisons. In 2012, Turkish newspaper Dicle News reported on the alleged sexual abuse and torture inflicted on Kurdish children whilst imprisoned in Pozantı Juvenile Prison in southern Turkey. The children, all between the ages of 13-17, weren’t only sexually abused by prison officers, guards and soldiers, but denied medical attention and hung from basketball hoops until close to choking as a means of torture.

“Some of our friends were raped by the ordinary prisoners dozens of times. They sometimes tried to force our trousers down. Our experiences cannot be described,” claimed 15-year-old H.K.

With the use of social networking sites, the Pozantı case was exposed. The children were moved to another prison. Their crimes: throwing stones, or as some would point out, they were Kurdish children throwing stones. The Pozantı case is not an “isolated” case, as Turkey’s ruling right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) was quick to trumpet to its people. The same government was also very quick to detain the journalists first to report on the Pozantı children, on accusations of being linked to the KCK; a Kurdish organisation linked to the PKK.

Human rights abuses continue to be reported with a rise in complaints by Kurdish women who’ve found the courage to speak out. However, there remain many obstacles in the way of these women getting justice. Many women don’t have much faith in either the Turkish penal system or the police, and so don’t feel that fighting against the history of sexual violence carried out by those with power in patriarchal Turkey is a war which they can prevail.

This feature was written before May 12 2013 as part of the Guardian International Development Journalism competition.

 

The Best Ever Face Wash: L’Oreal Skin Perfection Soothing Gel-Cream Wash

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It take’s a very good product for me to label as my most favourite. And the L’Oreal Skin Perfection range’s gel-cream wash is definitely currently my favourite face wash. I say currently but I’ve actually been using this particular product for a few months now, and I am very happy with it. I’ve tried out quite a few face washes’ and scrubs, and I’ve found that the L’Oreal skin perfection face wash works best for me because I have rather sensitive skin.

My skin like many young women is at times a little prone to spots and blackheads. I’m guessing that most probably the reason for this is that I have quite oily skin. However at times it can have some dry patches on my face, particularly nose and around the mouth area. So I’d say I have combination skin. The L’Oreal skin perfection gel-wash claims to be for dry and sensitive skin. I use this face wash every morning and before I go to bed, unlike some other face washes, this product isn’t harsh on my sensitive skin. Instead it’s very gentle, and I always find that any spots or imperfections I have tend to vanish after using the L’Oreal skin perfection gel-wash. I’d say this takes around two washes. And this is great! I find that some face washes and particularly face scrubs, cause me to have a negative reaction. This often leads to more spots then I’d usually have, as well as even more sensitive skin.

I think that the L’Oreal Skin Perfection range is great for young women. Their product’s are also very diverse, in that there’s literally something for almost anyone. There are actually quite a vast amount of different product available in the Skin Perfection range. I myself haven’t tried and tested out all of them. I’m a little tempted to trying out the Skin Perfection Purifying Gel Wash for normal to combination skin, as well as the Radiance Revealing Exfoliator. I’m expecting that unlike other exfoliators I have tried, it won’t have the same harsh effect. However what I’ve currently discovered is that by adding around a tea spoon of bicarbonate soda to my face wash, it transforms into a great DIY exfoliator, which isn’t harsh on my skin. I would do this around 1- 2 times a week. And I have noticed great results (spot redness goes down or disappears significantly!).

I find that the L’Oreal skin perfection gel-wash is great value for money – another positive. I tend to purchase the product from Superdrug where they usually have a  two for £5 offer. Great for students, and those looking to save money, as beauty products seem to be getting even more expensive lately. You can also purchase the wash from many high street stores and supermarkets.

As a final note, this is my personal opinion on the product, and I hope it has helped.

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Egyptian Magic Miracle All Purpose Cream – Review

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Pros
• Uses all natural ingredients
• Give’s a nice glow
• Mentioned in Look magazine

Cons
• Quite expensive – not great value for money.
• Oily consistency – wouldn’t use daily.

I decided to purchase this natural ingredient all purpose skin cream when I had read about it in Look magazine a month ago. Egyptian Magic caught my attention for a few reasons. Firstly I’m always trying to find a good all purpose cream, preferably a natural one. Egyptian Miracle combines together olive oil, bee pollen, beeswax, honey, royal jelly and Propolis extract.

Another reason I wanted to give it a go was because Look magazine had mentioned the Egyptian Magic all purpose cream was used by celebrities such as Cara Delevigne. Now of course these claims are not always true, but nevertheless I liked the mentioned ingredients and the fact that the product was natural, so I thought I’d give this cream a go. I’ve never really liked the idea of using products containing lots of artificial ingredients, and as the Egyptian Magic all purpose cream is all natural, this is a plus point.

Now I’ve been using Egyptian Magic all purpose cream for around a month now, and one good point is that it hasn’t finished yet. I thought it might have by now because my mum’s also been using it occasionally. I’m happy about this because the cream was quite pricey – I paid £21 for the cream. I was a little hesitant about this. I did a quick google search to work out where I could purchase the product for a good price, and in the end I ended up ordering the cream from Beauty Bay . My other option was to order from the product manufacturers themselves- the Egyptian Magic website, but Beauty Bay didn’t have a shipping fee which was more ideal. I have since found out that Liberty of London also appears to sell the product, but for £29 (which I wouldn’t consider myself). The Egyptian Magic website does provide quite a good amount of information on their website, claiming that the product can be used for almost anything. For dry skin, body, face, intimate areas’ and even on the scalp.

I found that the consistency of the cream is very oily, and I expected this as it does appear to contain a great amount of olive oil. For this reason I recommend that a little goes a long way. I didn’t use the cream everyday. As it contains olive oil I was a little worried too much may have a negative effect on my sensitive skin, especially since I’m prone to spots & occasional eczema rashes. So instead I would use the cream after baths and showers, to restore moisture. I found that applying a small amount of the cream to my face before I went to bed, gave me a nice glow the morning after. I know that many people would agree that it’s good to let your face absorb it’s own oil properties at night in order to improve elasticity and give you that glow. I felt that the Egyptian Magic cream encouraged this. Overall I didn’t really come to the opinion that the cream is great for parts of the body prone to very dry skin, i.e. feet, knees, elbows. I think that it’s best used as a little face mask and for moisture of the overall body after having a bath. I didn’t really notice much difference using the product on my scalp and hair before washing. I would prefer using pure olive oil for this. Maybe combining with some lemon juice or egg whites.

Egyptian magic does have a lovely, natural smell, however I’m still unsure as to whether I’d purchase the product again- mainly due to the fact that I’m still unsure about whether it’s good value for money.