The 13th Women’s Worlds (WW) Congress / Seminário Internacional Fazendo Gênero 11 & 13thWomen’s Worlds Congress, Florianopolis, Brazil, 30 July - 04 August 2017, pp.1-9
Abstract: One reflection of patriarchal structure in many societies is that women are forced to change their surnames into the surname of the husband upon marriage. This practice is arguably a violation of human rights. Indeed, in a case regarding women’s surname after marriage (Ünal Tekeli v. Turkey, 16 November 2004, no. 29865/96) the European Court of Human Rights decided against Turkey. The court held that Turkey’s refusal to let the applicant (a female lawyer) use only her maiden name as her surname was in violation of Article 8 (right to respect private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights. Following the cited decision, a family court in Ankara recently ruled in favor of an applicant seeking approval for using her maiden name despite being married; however the decision was overruled by the Turkish Supreme Court relying on arguments based on the current legislation, which prioritizes the concept of family unity over women’s right to keep their surnames.
Focusing on this hotly debated issue in the Turkish context, this paper will:
- Explain regulations regarding surnames of married women in Turkey and contrast these with corresponding regulations in other legal systems;
- Assess the validity of Turkey’s arguments from a human rights perspective;
Keywords: Women’s surname, human rights, family unity, Turkey, ECtHR