Some Women Get Expanded Rights in Turkey

On January 1, 2002, far reaching revisions to Turkey’s civil code went into effect that go a long way toward recognizing men and women as equals. Unfortunately, many women’s groups in Turkey do not feel the changes go far enough, and in fact there is a serious deficiency in the revision.

On the positive side, the revisions essentially end the supreme position that men enjoyed when it came to domestic matters. All property in marriage is now jointly owned by husband and wife. A woman will no longer need her husband’s permission to work outside the home, and women are now able to sue for divorce if their husband commits adultery, as well as have a right to property and potentially alimony after a divorce.

Unfortunately, the law is not retroactive, meaning that it only applies to newly married couples. The 17 million already-married Turkish women will not have the right, for example, to ask for alimony or half of the property owned by the couple, which makes this a rather bittersweet victory.


Turkish women score victory for equality. The BBC, November 24, 2001.

Turkish women get equal rights. The BBC, January 1, 2002.

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