This research paper focuses on the correlation between violence against women and the rise of authoritarian populism in contemporary Turkey. Soaring numbers of violence against women in Turkey by 400% according to official numbers of the government by 1,400% according to NGO reports in the last two decades reveal the alarming rise of violence against women. Although, there is an abundance of grassroot activism and social movements fighting to eliminate violence against women, there are very few studies examining this problem named as an epidemic by many scholars. Literature review on the topic shows that there is a deficit in current research that addresses the relationship between authoritarian populism and gender politics, in this case increase of violence against women. Kandiyoti (2016) argues that violence against women in Turkey generally “blamed on an ill-defined notion of patriarchy, implicitly understood as a deeply ingrained pattern of culture” or as some policy makers call “a social disease” (103). This characterization while pathologizing the offenders fails to address the systemic and institutional underlying reasons of this phenomenon and its link to governance (Kandiyoti 2016, 104). Lack of research combining these two, namely, the location of gender in the Turkish politics, begs for a comprehensive analysis and research of changing political atmosphere and its impact on violence against women. Grewal (2020) argues that “gender and sexuality – articulated with race, class, caste, religion and other local social divisions – are central to producing authoritarian power on the interrelated scales of family and nation” (182). Hence, this paper provides a discussion of the ways in which gender is located in the current political climate of Turkey and has increasingly become an apparatus for the authoritarian state as a form of protection of its perpetuity.
Keywords: authoritarian populism, illiberal democracies, gender and the state