Turkey: New civil code ensures equality in the family

Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR) - NEW WAYS
The reform of the civil code, for which the women's movement in Turkey has been lobbying for many years, has been finally accepted by the Turkish Parliament.
The amended civil code scraps the supremacy of men in marriage and allows women to have a say in all matters related to the marriage, thus establishing the equality of men and women in the family. One of the most important changes included in the 1030 amendments to the civil code sees the removal of the clause that defines the man as the head of the family, giving equal status to the woman. The new code also raises the legal age for marriage to 18 both for women and men (which was previously 17 for men and 15 for women). Children born outside marriage will be given the same inheritance rights as others and single parents will be allowed to adopt children.

The most controversial issue of the new civil code was the reform of the clause regulating the matrimonial property. The original draft of the new civil code foresaw that all matrimonial property should be split 50/50. This clause met the strong resistance of the nationalists and the religious conservatives in the parliament, who insisted on the separate property regime, which has been the rule in Turkey since 1926.
Due to a big campaign initiated and coordinated by women's groups all around the country since the beginning of the year, the nationalists and the religious conservatives were forced to accept the new property regime, which entitles women to an equal share of the assets accumulated during the time of the marriage. However, due to a last minute law formulated by the opposition parties, which will be discussed in the parliament next week, this clause will be valid only for property acquired after Jan. 1, 2003. We, as women's groups continue to protest this law and are planning to go to the constitutional court in case it is accepted by the parliament.

Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR) - NEW WAYS will soon publish a booklet on the new Turkish Civil Code in English. If you want copies of this publication, please write to wwhrist@superonline.com