Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Turkey| The Politicization of Rape as a Consequence of Western Modernity and Religious Conservatism: Competing Media Narratives on Gender

Ece Algan


Through a feminist critical discourse analysis of newspaper columns from both secular/nationalist and religio-conservative outlets, this article illustrates how the issue of increased violence against women—which was made visible by the murder and attempted rape of a young university student, Özgecan Aslan—was instrumentalized by secular media outlets to critique the current government’s conservative family policies based on Islamic principles, while conservative progovernment media outlets used the murder as a moral tale about both the importance of a devout, humble life devoid of consumerism, and other temptations of modern life that encourage lewd behavior. Although patriarchy was not addressed as a root problem for rape, Özgecan Aslan ended up becoming a polarizing and tragic symbol of the consequences of either Western modernity or conservative Islamism—depending on the ideological composition of the media outlet in question—further helping both sides legitimize their versions of patriarchy.


gender policies, Western modernity, religious conservatism, Islam, feminist movement, Turkey, partisan media, discourse analysis

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