I underwent psychological violence from my father for 9 years to ‘correct’ my hijab.

Hello, most of the time, my heart cannot bear reading the things written here. I am 24, and I see girls who are passing through a similar situation that I went through at the age of 18, so I want to be a glimmer of hope by telling you a little about my own story. 

I was born as the youngest daughter of a conservative family with 5 children. My mom is hafiz, my dad supports manipulator religious people and their ideas. To crown it all, I have 2 older brothers who are worse than each other. So, I am coming from a repressive family. When I started high school, I began to wear a headscarf with a “compulsory request.” I always liked to take care of my clothing. I was even forced to wear ferace for a period, but in 9 years with a headscarf, I barely used bonnet. After a certain age, I have always done makeup. I lived in Istanbul until the age of 19, and these were not such a big problem. But when I went to another city for the university, even my earrings, which appeared from my scarf was a deal in my school. I never cared. For 9 years, I underwent psychological violence from my father to “correct” my hijab. My brother once said to me, “When you get married in the future and if your husband beats you, I will come and beat him no matter what, but if it is because of your hijab, I will stay away.” A few months later, I ejected him from my life, and we haven’t talked for 3 years.

My second year and beginning of third grade in university were when I was the most religious with my own consent. But something happened on the mid-term break of third grade, and I started questioning religion. I will not keep this part long. At the end of the 4th grade, I was confident that I no longer believed, I wanted to be liberated. I did not want to return to my family’s home. I went home in Ramadan just before I graduated. My father started to notice my situation and started speaking ill of me.

When they came to my graduation, they took me to Istanbul by using force. At that moment, the whole thing was about being with them, like if they cared once within 4 years. I went to Istanbul with my two sisters, we called them to a cafe one night. My father didn’t care much about my sisters because they were married, but I was still a matter of honor, I knew. After telling them about our situation, I left the table before everyone and ran away. After spending part of that night at my friend’s house, I left Istanbul. They called for days. They texted, “You’ll be a whore,” I didn’t reply. All I care about at that moment was the wind I could feel in my hair. All I ever expected was a bit of love. If they ever say, “My daughter, we love you anyway,” I would come around, but no. My father thought he was a saint. 

Two weeks have passed. I went back to the city I was studying for my makeup exams. In my last exam, the teacher approached me and said, “Umut, your parents are waiting for you at the door.” I got out, we went and sat down. Of course, my friends were waiting in front of the door with two cars and I was holding a phone and ready to call the police. They were sure they would take me back to Istanbul. I said, “I have legal rights, I will not return.” They didn’t believe it. I called the police, they had to accept. Then they left. This was the first time for them to understand that they could not interfere with me anymore.

Later, I went abroad. Before I left the border gate, I called and said, “I’m leaving, you can’t reach me anymore.” This was the second one. I returned to Turkey, they called many times, and I did not go because I knew what was going to happen to me. I was no fool. Still, we are just talking on the phone. They even thought that I had a boyfriend, that I was letting him use me, that I was staying with him. I was saying to myself, laughing, “They never knew me.”

Girls, life is yours after you turn 18. Work well, go to good universities, get scholarships, even work part-time if needed. But stand on your own feet and believe! Like Nazım Hikmet said; 

“We will see beautiful days, children,

We will sail our speedboats into the open sea.

Believe children believe children,

We will see beautiful days, sunny days!”

Translator: Ö.K.

(Image: Justin Xia)

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