For The First Time Ever, Female Lawyers In Turkey Will Be Able To Wear Their Headscarves In Court
9:45 am, January 30th | by Meredith Lepore
Female lawyers in Turkey won their right to wear the Islamic headscarf, commonly known as hijab, in court. This was a result of the reversal of a regulation banning the headscarf in judicial institutions by the Council of State. The court ruled that women lawyers can wear the scarves in court, repealing another ban on religious dress in the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country. Civil servants are still barred from wearing headscarves but the ruling removes that ban for lawyers.
The campaign for women to wear the scarf has been protested for years. “In our constitution fundamental rights are restricted by laws. [The headscarf ban] is neither a law nor an ordinance, but they carry out this restrictive practice claiming that it is part of a professional set of rules,” said Attorney Şule Dağlı Gökkılı. She petitioned the court to cancel the ban when her application to renew her bar membership was rejected over a photograph in which she wore the head scarf.
The court also said its ruling not only applied to courtrooms, but also all offices related to the judicial process, such as clerk’s offices, bailiff directorates, and prosecutor’s offices.
This movement for women to wear their scarves in court is seen as affront to secularism in Turkey by some.
This is a huge victory for female lawyers in Turkey. Of course, this ban on head scarves has more to do with politics, religion and society than the dress code battles fought by American female lawyers, but there’s plenty of wardrobe policing that happens stateside as well. Famed judge Lenore Nesbitt, the first female judge appointed to the U.S. Southern District of Florida, used to send women out of her courtroom for wearing open-toed shoes, and pearls were an absolute requirement. Ally McBeal would have been kicked out of Nesbitt’s court faster than a hallucinated roller skating baby.