Daughter recently went to Ankara where she, along with some of her classmates, were chosen to represent their school as members of JMUNESCO (Junior Model United Nationals Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation). JMUNESCO was designed to model the United Nations and to educate students around the world about issues we currently face today. One of the topics at this year’s JMUNESCO was women and children’s rights in second world countries and during her research on this topic she came across the 2016 Oscar nominated foreign film “Mustang”.
Mustang tells the story of five sisters who are learning about friendship, love and most importantly the unjust lives of some women growing up in rural Turkey. After an innocent afternoon at the beach with some male classmates, the sisters find themselves being imprisoned in their home by their guardians who are concerned that the girls will be seen as ‘sullied’. From virginity tests (yes really), the undercurrent of incestual rape, teenage suicide and the very real possibility of being married off to strangers this film is tender, funny, and painful all rolled into a storyline that, as the mother of a thirteen year old girl, terrifies me to think that this behaviour still occurs today. I watched the movie in Turkish (yes even with my limited knowledge of the language) but I believe it is available with English subtitles. Spoiler: keep tissues handy because you are going to need them.
Daughter lives on the cusp of traditional Turkey and modern Turkey. Here in the Village she sees not just how things ‘used’ to be but how they in fact still are. It is not uncommon for girls to leave school, get married and have children when they are no more than children themselves. That is their life. Bitmiş. Here in the Village Daughter dresses fairly conservatively and although she fights the system (me) she knows that this is just ‘how it is’ but once outside of the Village she will dance all night, wear cute clothes, hang out with friends and, generally speaking, not have fussy adults (again that’s me) always telling her what she can and can’t do.
Daughter knows that her future will include, but is not limited to, finishing her schooling, travelling the world, marrying a certain bass player (in the far, far distant future) and taking every opportunity available to her because that’s precisely how life should be. _________________________________________________________________________
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