Elif Shafak's Works: A Means of Preventing Honor Based Violence

Elif Shafak's Works: A Means of Preventing Honor Based Violence

Maria Mirabela Paraschiv (Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2960-6.ch003
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This chapter is intended to be an analysis over Elif Shafak's novels which have as main theme the fight for women's rights and freedom. The writer expresses her indignation against the honor code and she pleads for women's emancipation in modern Turkey. Within her novels, Honour and The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak manages to portray Turkish women both traditional and modern, pointing out the gap between these two faces of the Turkish society. An active writer, an anti-violence advocate, but also a journalist who during her interviews and articles published mainly in Western media draws the picture of HBV victims, Shafak reminds the main solution for the eradication of the honor killings and sexual discrimination: ‘Higher Education' for the Turkish girls who stay in their country and integration for those who immigrate in different corners of the world where Women's Rights are respected and the perpetrators punished for their crimes.
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“The greatest nation-builder of modern times” (Mango, 1999, p. xi) and one of the most interesting and important statesmen of the Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, father of Modern Turkey. In the biography Atatürk, Andrew Mango emphasizes the idea that the Turkish leader aimed at transforming his country - through especially a genuine cultural revolution - into a part of the universal civilization, “which, like the thinkers of the European Enlightenment, he saw as the onward march of humanity regardless of religion and the divisions it caused”.(Mango, 1999, p. xi) Amongst Atatürk’s cultural innovations that should be mentioned are the adoption of the Latin alphabet and the fresh impetus given to arts and culture which connected Eastern values to the Western ones. Nowadays, Atatürk’s principles are preached by several authors either in articles or storytelling that reveal to what extent he managed to change an empire founded on religious values into a democratic country with a constitution which should ensure the protection of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights. Despite Turkey’s democratization, there are still some deviations from Atatürk’s secular path and every time they occur the strong voice of women writers like Elif Shafak or Esmahan Aykol rise against injustices or situations that may lead Turkey towards violent manifestations of the religious beliefs. Both treat the subject of migration because of their family background which determined them to experience the condition of an expatriate. At the same time their voices are widely spread abroad through novels like Honour or The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak and “Kati Hirschel” mystery novels: Hotel Bosporus, Divorce Turkish Style, Baksheesh, or Good Bye Istanbul by Esmahan Aykol. The two women writers fight against violence and stereotypes, and are mainly concerned with the themes of migration and the code of honor.

First this chapter will focus on defining the concepts of HBV (honor based violence), the code of honor and ethnic violence within multicultural societies, second it will explore two of Elif Shafak’s novels: Honour and The Bastard of Istanbul.

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