Pinar Ilkkaracan – Standing up for women’s rights in Turkey and fighting sexual oppression in Muslim countries

As one of Turkey's leading feminists, Pinar Ilkkaracan has been shaping the women's movement for more than 20 years now. Her organization, "Women for Women's Human Rights – New Ways" (WWHR), played a major role in reforming the Turkish penal code in 2004. She lobbies for gender equality and sexual liberty both inside and outside her homeland.

Ilkkaracan became involved in the women’s rights movement while working at a women’s shelter, not in Turkey, but in Germany. There she made contact with women activists in Germany and internationally, and when she returned to Turkey in 1994, she founded “Women for Women’s Human Rights – New Ways”. Ilkkaracan and her team worked hard for many years and initiated campaigns to change the country’s legal system. They finally succeeded in reforming the Turkish penal code in 2004, when a number of the organization’s amendments were accepted. However, its success was merely on paper; the reality of women’s rights in Turkey remains far from satisfactory. Therefore, WWHR keeps actively fighting violence against women, promoting women’s political involvement and raising their voices in protest against the government’s unwillingness or failure to impose laws that protect women’s rights.

Sexuality is also a major focus for Ilkkaracan. She advocates sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies through her articles and books, such as “Deconstructing Sexuality in the Middle East” (2008) and “Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies” (2000). Ilkkaracan launched the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Countries (CSBR), a network of international NGOs promoting those rights as human rights in Muslim countries. As a long-standing activist for women’s and sexual rights, she was awarded the Women’s Rights Prize by the Gruber Foundation in 2007.

Pinar Ilkkaracan is a very charismatic human rights activist who has become a leading voice in Turkey’s feminist movement and is connected to many international NGOs in both Western and Muslim countries. Her extensive network is a major source of inspiration and exchange of knowledge that benefits her work. For more than two decades, she has been focusing her efforts and dedication on providing a better future for all women in Turkey and elsewhere.

 

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1 comment

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