Turkish Radio Television Supreme Board Sanctioned Scenes Relating to Stereotypes of Virginity

In its decision numbered 21 rendered at the meeting dated 28 April 2021 and numbered 2021/17; the Radio Television Supreme Board (“Board”) inspected a TV series called “Camdaki Kız” (the girl in the window) broadcasted in a national channel in Turkey and made remarkably critical evaluations for the scenes relating to stereotypes of virginity.

The scenes and dialogues showing a mother forcing her daughter to wear a virginity corset throughout her all life starting from her childhood and taking her to virginity tests against her will, were found to be violating Article 8/1(s) of the Law no. 6112 on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and Their Media Services, ruling that the media services shall not contain broadcasts that are contrary to social gender equality, encourage pressure/oppression on women and exploit women. As a result, the Board imposed a heavy administrative monetary fine to the channel due to a violation of the law.

The Board evaluated the scenes displaying a mother putting excessive pressure on her daughter since her childhood, about how extremely conservative she has to be for the sake of protecting her virginity, as part of their honour, with threats such as giving her forty minutes of hell, leading a dog’s life and even killing herself if she ever attempts to step out of her mother’s line and in particular if she ever takes off her virginity corset, which she forcibly make her wear, and tells anyone anything about it. The Board also inspected the scenes in the following episodes of the TV show where the audience watched the mother roughly beating her little daughter because she took off her corset for attending gym class at school, where the mother took her daughter to the doctor for virginity tests once she was a little girl and then when she was a grown woman with her forced consent and as ashamed to get examined by the doctor.

After defining the term “violence” in all aspects and emphasizing the close relationship between the violence shown on the screens and its negative effects on individuals’ behaviours, The Board concentrated on the scenes of violence partaking in the inspected TV show. It is stated that honour is not a characteristic that should be affiliated with only women and virginity; it is instead a common characteristic that every individual in the society has to possess as it corresponds to strict dependence on morality; demonstrating it reversely by promoting gender stereotypes will only cause the reinforcement of this wrong mentality. The Board further assessed that the psychological violence perpetrated by the mother to her daughter could be seen in her speeches due to full of threats and fear, centred on “tarnishment of their honour” and sins along with the physical violence as she beats her daughter as a punishment of taking her virginity corset off. Lastly, the Board significantly states that making a woman examined with a virginity test when her virginity is suspected is the most crucial example of gender-based violence. Besides, it is noted that the Turkish Medical Association describes it as a humiliation to an individual’s mental and sentimental integrity.

The decision is very notable in terms of manifesting stereotypes of virginity and developing an opposing view to the yet continuing false mentality of matching the honour term directly with women as one of the appearances of gender inequality. Considering the television’s irrepressible effect on its audience, TV shows on screens should not swing to promote the pressure and violence against women.

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