Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Consul General and Director-General for Trade & Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14th January 2014 Istanbul, Turkey

Violence against women, Kusursuzlar and can IKEA do good?

kusursuzlar

I recently enjoyed the new Turkish film Kusursuzlar (“The Impeccable Ones”).  The film shows how two adult sisters respond differently to a traumatic event, the details of which are revealed as the film progresses.  It makes gruelling viewing, but has some fine comedy moments – especially featuring the male neighbour who may or may not be a romantic interest for one or other of the sisters.  Good on sibling rivalry, too.

Kusursuzlar is not optimistic about the state of gender relations in Turkey.  But, as writer Emine Yildirim said in a post-film discussion, gender issues are universal.

I was reminded of the film when I visited the giant, packed IKEA store in Umraniye on the Asian side of Istanbul.  In the bedroom section, advertising panels depict happy couples – often in, or on, a bed – in what appear to be loving and equality-based relationships of the type which the heroines of the film are having little success in securing.

This raises a question: can the depiction of a certain way of life, including gender relationships, by a multinational company – or, for example, Hollywood – influence the way people behave?

On a separate but related issue, it is striking that most of the goods sold in IKEA stores, including their names (great link – Ed), are identical, even though the countries they are sold in vary.  IKEA itself is conscious that their products may be different from what people are used to.  In the UK in 1996 they ran a controversial campaign called “Chuck out your chintz”.

Talking of Hollywood, the actress Angelina Jolie has taken a leading role in supporting the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative launched by British Foreign Secretary William Hague in 2012.  The UK has long championed projects in Turkey to support the rights of women, including work with the Government and NGOs to prevent domestic violence.  Recent examples include helping an NGO, KAMER, to deliver workshops to women in rural communities about how to report domestic violence; and support for the international day for the elimination of violence against women. 

These are tough, important issues in any country.  The images in Kusursuzlar are a powerful reminder of why we all need to keep trying to make things better.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog – about Turkey and the UK and things
that link us together – interesting and, where appropriate,
entertaining.  You can also follow me on twitter – @leighturnerFCO.
About me: I arrived in Istanbul in August 2012 for five weeks of
full-time Turkish immersion before taking up my responsibilities as HM
Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey,
Central Asia and South Caucasus the following month.
Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and
Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in
several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in
1983.
Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna,
Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and now Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging
from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.
2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the
house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism while my wife worked at the embassy.
To get to know the great city of Istanbul and the rest of the
fascinating and dynamic country that is Turkey is a privilege and a
pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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