During the past few years we come across with the news of murdered girls-women more often. The fact that audience and readers are interested in such news is that the society finds such news a part of the actual life. The name of a movie by famous singer Ferdi Tayfur together with Necla Nazır, “Your are either mine or you are dead”, which was shot more than 30 years ago, gives enough clues regarding our comprehension of love and marriage. As Turkey becomes richer and more urbanized, many of our characteristics, which should have been left behind in villages, are brought to the urban life. Until 20 years ago, rural novels were very popular among some ideological groups. As the share of the agricultural products in the gross domestic product (GDP has decreased and the employment facilities in cities have increased, migration towards urban areas have been accelerated. As we all have witnessed, nowadays villages are only occupied by retired people and those who do not have the opportunity to move somewhere else.
We should here mention the vast investments made by the Government to highways and transportation sector, which have facilitated the access from villages to cities. Thus it has become possible to settle in a city and have fields to plant in a village. In addition education and health services in cities make urban areas more attractive. However, social relations and love are still based on rural philosophy. Marriage becomes harder and more expensive. In the past, since the land or the shop was a property of the father, the married son used to live with his parents; and the bride was sometimes subject to oppression like behaviors of the mother-in-law for long years. Mothers-in-law, who did not like the idea of sharing their sons with their brides, used to exaggerate the quarrels between themselves and the brides and complained to their husbands or sons.
It was difficult to find a girl to marry in villages. If there was not any girl in the village, who was both good looking and hard working at home and in the field or looking after the livestock, it was necessary to search for a girl in neighboring villages.
If the mothers were not good enough in finding a good girl for their sons, then the only way was to establish good relations who filled her barrels from the village fountain or wash clothes in the stream nearby the village. It was easier for the lovers to meet when in villages. It was possible to meet and talk by the fountain, in the field or in threshing floor. In fact this relation must have ended with marriage; there was no other alternative.
In cities, houses were very close to each other, everything was almost common. Everyone in the neighborhood considered themselves as being responsible for protecting the honor of the neighborhood. Behind close curtains thousands of spy eyes used to watch the area. When fell in love, it was only possible to stand on a chair to watch outside above the high walls. To do this the person should have had a lot of courage. Only a young girl burned with love could dare to do such things.
In fact love marriages were not looked as decent. This was reason to be labeled as “hussy” for women, and “rascal” for men. It was believed such marriages did not end well. If the love between the young went on for a while, there were rumors spread all around.
In the cities, outside world was completely men’s world. Finding a woman outside was very difficult. Only a century ago young girls were to sit beside their mothers at home, and even if they were alone at home, they were not able to go into other rooms and stay for long. As in the lines of the famous author Refik Halid; “they were always under supervision like a bird to fly or a cat to run away. Girls were left alone under no circumstances. If a girls seemed silent and thinking about something, it was thought to be signs of falling in love”. But was it possible to forbid love anyway?
After this short reminder, we can say that the girls were almost “booked” by the boy with who a relation was set. The girl can no longer get away from being a lover, engaged or married. This relation, which is expected to be crowned with a marriage by the neighborhood or village, never ended with a separation. For both sides, separation was a disaster.
The increase in urbanization and thus in incomes resulted with separate homes for new couples. Now the young are to cover for all their expenses. However, the economic situation has made it impossible to marry at the ages of 16-17. Finding a job to live on and buying the household goods are now completed at the 30s. Besides, the young couples face big problems now since marriages arranged by families no longer exist as in the past. Such problems are to be overcome by the couples, since families are no longer involved in the process of finding a spouse for their sons.
It is really something not acceptable to destroy a family established after long years of waiting and all the troubles suffered during marriage phase with few quarrels. Families, which are not involved in the pre-marriage relation period, are not successful in fixing the problems between the couples. The results are evident as we everyday read in the papers; “stabbed to death the girl, who did not accept to marry him”, or “the police chief shot his police officer wife, who did not reunite”. Men continue giving the same message to women: “You are either mine or you are dead!”
Is the Turkish society going to find a solution to this problem, which shows signs of social explosion? We may consider early marriages arranged by families as outdated. However, someone should explain that it is also not normal to keep people until the 30s to “complete everything missing” and then wed and ask them to “be happy now”. Characters, which settle until that age, do not match each other and thus “divorce rates increase rapidly” as the statistics say.
It is clear that the Government seeks a solution to this problem since they have established a separate Ministry under the name “Family and Social Policies”. Do we have to transform the society backwards as it used to be or new measures are going to be taken for reforms, we are not sure. It is true that we are being urbanized, but our rural character is still with us. To find out what the old situation was like, we can recommend two books from Refik Halid Karay to the Ministry officials:: Üç Nesil Üç Hayat (Three Generations Three Lives) and İstanbul’un İç Yüzü (Inner Face of Istanbul). In case urgent measures are not taken immediately, we will continue to bury dead bodies of our girls and women. May God Forbid.