I exist I am breathing and I will exist as I wish.

“Nothing but our faith in the fallacy of the life imposed upon us is the truth. Everything is possible since Nothing is true.”

I am reaching out whilst enclosed from all corners, through bars and underneath the veil covering my hair. I exist, I am breathing, and I shall continue doing so in my own way. I would like to talk about the all-consuming and hideous oppression that shaped my whole childhood. My story begins, as usual, within a conservative family. I was raised in an intimately religious family.

Al-Fatehah, Surah Yaseen, alongside allegedly all-healing prayers and my body… Tyranny and restrictions begin corporally.

I was banned from putting on pants even as a kid, my knees used to be gashed because of the skirts I had to wear. I did always felt the grotesqueness of those long skirts, clashing with those put on by my peers. I was still the silent one, kind of marginalized. I have never belonged anywhere. I was just a devout kid, afraid of questioning things. Instead, I should have been playing games on the streets, dreaming and running with no time whatsoever to think about the All-Mighty. I went to a İmam Hatip High School*, typically, with my pre-destined veil on. I did not even utter a single word to the opposite sex in those four years as it was forbidden (harām). Even a quick glance meant a cardinal sin. I used to walk with my eyes looking down, and my body hunched by all the fear. It was, however, impossible to undermine a curious and reflective, no matter how polluted, brain. I had internet access, and I was curious about the lives, the worlds, of the people that had allegedly been doomed to hell according to “the teachings.” I read a lot and started perceiving the world way beyond all that I had been taught. Here I was, a non-believer with a cover on my head, preventing all forms of communication with the outside world. The veil was never only a piece of fabric; it represented all the unrest about kissing a boy on the street, being alone at an artistic event, or being photographed whilst enjoying an ale. It was about a delusion; me, myself, and the one that others believed to be me. The veil covered not only my hair but also who I really was.   

I started creating small areas/moments of freedom, leading to an ambivalent life. I sought shelter in restrooms, when I was as far away as possible, to free my hair and feel the wind. I was digging my way out, step by step.

I believe that all the enslavement would one day end. I would eventually be brave enough to face all the struggles and become myself. I also believe in you, beautiful women, who take a spirited stand against oppression, against all the odds. I know that we shall one day free ourselves from the oppression and through the loopholes. 

*Imam Hatip schools are educational institutes in Turkey where people are trained for religious professions such as imams.

(Image: Ulla Thynell)

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