I would say, “If my mother will find out that I have menstruated, I would rather die.”

I was terrified of menstruation.

I was born in a conservative, right-wing, religious, and even bigot family in such a country. I often think about what could be worse in a person’s life. I was going to Qur’an courses every summer, which started at the ages of 5-6. When we were younger, we were taught that everything was a sin. Those who did not live like us were deserving hell.

I remember that when I was 7-8 years old, I was sorry for the daughter of our neighbor, who was 3-4 years old; What is her fault if her mother is unveiled? It was a pity for us, but I was not aware of it yet.

I wanted to play basketball in primary school, then volleyball, but my family’s response was always negative because it was the sin. Of course, the pressures increased when I got a little older. This time, my mother will learn how to practice Tecvit*, or she started teaching us because there is no point in reading the Qur’an. My summers were horrible. My cousins and friends were going on vacation, but we would not go on vacation because the holiday was also a sin. It is also a sin to see those who wear it even if you are not wearing a swimsuit bikini. As if we were not enough to click home, we were also forced to read the Qur’an, learn how to pray, practice prayers. After a while, I started not reading the Qur’an; I was getting in front of me. I was pretending to be reading. My mother thinks I have finished reading the Qur’an, for example, but after a while, I was not reading. I was performing prayers from time to time. When I was graduating from 6th grade, my mother has forbidden me to wear short sleeves. She always reminded me that I would wear the hijab immediately when I have menstruated one day. We were looking for long-sleeved clothing in the summer day. I hated what I wore. I hadn’t even turned 12.

My friends were asking why I wore this in summer. I couldn’t find the answer, and I was terrified of menstruation.

Towards the end of the summer, I convinced my mother to wear it short. Still, I immediately warned, “”You will wear the headscarf as soon as you have menstruation.”” I accepted it, helpless. One day I had my period in mid-September. I didn’t know what to do. I remember it was Ramadan, and I would pray to die at the Iftar** table.

I would say, “If my mother will find out that I have menstruated, I would rather die.” It’s because my freedom would come to an end.

I was able to hide it for 3-4 days, then she learned. Before she said anything, we were going to the village in the evening, and I prepared my clothes—a short-sleeve T-shirt and Capri. “No, you can’t wear shorts anymore,” my mother said. I cried all the way. I did not go out of the village. Because the weather was hot and I had to wear it long. Then we returned home, school started. One day I came back to school, my mother took me to my room and put me in front of her. She said, “You will perform all your prayers; you will be veiled for 15 days on vacation,” she said. Of course, I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell anyone; I don’t want to. I just cried and looked at the calendar for how many days left. Meanwhile, my mother boasted to everyone and said, “My daughter will be veiled.” As soon as I heard this, I was crying.

She asked veiled, religious people about their ideas, but I had no right to say anything. People I have seen 2-3 times in my life were deciding about my life.

I cried a lot. I prayed to Allah, “What happens, I will not veil!” Then summer came. I didn’t even go out to avoid wearing a headscarf. In the summer, I was freaking out with my mom at home. I was fond of school because of her pressure. How many times have I attempted suicide? When I was 13 years old, I drank every medicine I found at home. In order not to go out veiled. I liked the village very much because it was not free to run and play, but anymore. It has been four years. I started the classroom when I was in high school 3. People knew me, and this because of the headscarf that I was uncomfortable at all times. Then the news that the headscarf would be released in schools started to appear. I was so scared. The only place I was free was the school. I was playing and running volleyball in the garden as I wanted. Now, this would also be restricted. I couldn’t take it anymore. One day I said to my mother, “”I don’t want to wear a headscarf anymore.”” She spoke a little, but okay unexpectedly, she said. It was the next day; I couldn’t do it, I put it on again. The next day I gathered all my courage and went out without a headscarf. I did not notice much when I was going to school because I was already unveiled at school. I noticed when I was going somewhere else. It was amazing that the wind touched my hair. I still feel sorry for my four years out, but I am proud of my struggle at an early age, 17. My mother is still praying that I will be veiled after every prayer and what will make her happiest in this life, but will someone give up tasting freedom?

I will not give up.

* Discipline that teaches how to read the Quran correctly according to specific rules.  

** Iftar is the name of the dinner Muslims have in Ramadan after fasting all day.

(Image: Kathrin Honesta)

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