On Turkish Roads to the Legitimation of Child Rape: Remembering Nazım as a Form of Escapism

Turkey: Thousands protest against proposed child sex law

The news was impossible to disregard. Regarded it, I have. Writing my reaction to it in nonfiction, however, was far too disturbing of a thought for me – an older woman, born into and raised in a modernized Turkey before leaving for the now similarly tainted United States in pursuit of an advanced academic career decades ago. So: I have resorted to poetry…yet once again.


My poem below first appeared here on October 19, 2014 in Turkish – the language in which I had initially conceived it, translating it to English shortly after. The photograph above of Nazım Hikmet, known as Nazım Hikmet Ran as well (1902-1963) had donned this page also back then. I am re-posting the poem in question with minor changes in their original articulations. This world-renowned exilic poet of Turkey had in persistence written – among numerous other humanity-related wrongdoings – on the objectionable status of Turkish women in their country of birth at large. I recognized Nazım’s deep-rooted concern inside me all over again in the face of the latest uproar in Istanbul, and so I reached for the prophetic conclusions he had drawn in his poem, “Kadınlarımız” (the italicized sections represent my direct quotes from Nazım).

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış yurdun acı gerçeklerini
kadınımızdan biteviye esirgenenleri
ister olsun tek bir başına ister kocasının yanında
olsun varsın bir bebesi, o verici böğrünün öz yuvasında

ince, küçük çeneleri, kocaman gözleriyle
anamız, avradımız, yarimiz kadınlar
ama anaya yakışan saygıyı
analıklarında bile göremeyen analar
soframızdaki yeri öküzümüzden sonra gelen

doğurmasa, erkeğinin asla göze alamayacağı bir fedakarlıkla
hayatın yegane masumiyet hazinesini ona hediyeleyen
herkes ana oluyorları kendine defalarca yediren
gene de yüzlerinden tebessüm nadiren eksilen
aynı yorgun alışkanlık çemberine
mahkum edilen kadınımız

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış senle beni,
onu şunu bunu
bizi sizi onları

bilmiş çok öncesinden bugünü geçmişi ve de geleceği
‘avradını, yarini’ analıklarında bile hiçe saymaya
ant içmiş erkeklerimizin tek toplar damarlı aile sofrasına
katmış cömert bir asaletle bu dahi destanına…

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How transparent our country of birth was to him
How deprived of life our women are
Whether single or decorating their husbands
With their babies cradled inside their selfless breasts

Our women with their fine, small chins and huge eyes;
Women that are our mothers, wives, lovers
But the kind of mothers
Who are robbed of motherly respect
Even in their motherhood

Our women who are forsaken
During meals for the sake of our oxen
Women who gift their men
Life’s ultimate treasure
A breath of innocence or more
If it weren’t for them
Whose men would never dare to undergo
The same great sacrifices of the self

Women who must tolerate
Their men’s oft-shouted ridicule:
Everyone can be a mother.
You are nothing special.

Women who nevertheless
Try not to neglect a smile from the face
Who are chained to the deadening same old tired rut

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How well he knew you me her us them
The present the past the future
Of his never-forgotten home
Of its single-veined patronizers

He knew it so well
That with his chivalric saga
He welded our women’s one-legged stools
Atop the food table of their men who seem to have sworn
To belittle their wives, their lovers even in their maternity divine…


Filed under Reflections

2 responses to “On Turkish Roads to the Legitimation of Child Rape: Remembering Nazım as a Form of Escapism

  1. Too often, I have to remind myself that we live not in one of those “dead” centuries through their various female-disregarding eras I have been teaching on and about for four decades…


  2. Extraordinary tribute to women of Turkey, and beyond, who are to this very day treated inhumanly, including the recent incident of Aboriginal / indigenous women who came forward with allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Quebec provincial police in Valdor, Quebec Canada, have learned that the Crown will not pursue charges…


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