Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Turkey

14th January 2014

Violence against women, Kusursuzlar and can IKEA do good?


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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3 comments on “Violence against women, Kusursuzlar and can IKEA do good?

  1. Dear Mr. Turner,

    I just wanted to thank you for this very encouraging blog entry and also for mentioning our film during your Hurriyet interview – I’m the writer/producer of Kusursuzlar and I have been meaning to write to you for some time, but I never got around to it. Once again, thank you for your kind words.

    1. You are too kind. I really enjoyed the film, which managed to address an important topic in Turkey while at the same time being gripping, watchable and moving. Thank you again.

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

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 (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and 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.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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