What’s a mother to do? Her children’s schools have been changed from secular academies preparing students for the modern world to religious imam-hatips, preparing students for the eternal world of Sunni Islam, for the boys, as religious leaders, for the girls, as traditional Muslim wives.
Not only have the kids’ schools changed, so have the faculties. Thousands of teachers, from kindergarten to graduate school have been fired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government after a failed military coup.
And it wasn’t just teachers being purged. More than 100,000 civilian workers, and thousands more in the military have been fired (some have been jailed) leaving their families without incomes. That direct blow, repeated in tens of thousands of homes across the country, has struck fear in the hearts of many friends and neighbors of the devastated families of the fired or jailed.
The burden of all this turbulence is borne most of all by the mothers of the kids whose schools have been radically made-over, by the wives of the purged, not to mention the purged women themselves, often key bread-winners as well as matriarchs of the household.
Meanwhile, post-coup Turkey is changing its laws affecting women, their rights in marriage, their rights to divorce, their rights to sexual autonomy if not equality, the relative value of their testimony in the courts, their standing in society is under challenge.
Dr. Xanthe Ackerman is executive director of the The Fuller Project for International Reporting, a news bureau that reports on women’ in foreign policy and women’s rights.
Xanthe’s work as a journalist and executive producer has recently featured in outlets including: TIME, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Financial Times, and 100Reporters.
Ackerman is the founder of Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa (AGE Africa), a non-profit that creates life-changing opportunities for girls. She is a former scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education, and is presently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.