Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Defying social taboos, Turkish women happy marrying disabled spouses

A report from Today's Zaman in Istanbul says that many Turkish women are challenging social taboos about marrying a disabled person and say "they are as happy as or even happier in their relationships than those with non-disabled partners."

-- "Halis is like a most precious jewel on which there is just a little dust. This dust clouds some eyes and they cannot conceive of the value of what is underneath."

-- "Love was a determining factor in my life. I fell in love with Ayhan's personality and I wanted to marry him."

-- "I never had the intention to get married, but we decided to marry in just a month and a half. I found everything I was looking for in him. There was no need to wait to get married."

These comments came from three women -- a chemist, a psychologist and a public relations specialist, all of whom fell in love with and married disabled men.

All three women faced rejection from family and friends because of the prejudices against disabled people in Turkey.

“I married Halis without informing my parents because they were strongly opposed to our decision to get married," says Ay┼če Kuralay, 34. "My father even said he would disown me if I went through with it. We faced very difficult times but never lost our determination to support each other no matter what happened. My parents did not forgive me for three years. In the meantime, I gave birth to my first daughter, Saliha Nur. My parents forgave me and my husband only when we visited them with our newborn baby. Now, we have two daughters and a son. We embraced life even more after the birth of our children."

The story also explains the acceptance the couples' children have for their fathers.

“Our children consider the fact that their father is a disabled man a normal thing," says Kuralay, whose husband is blind. "They were never disturbed to know their father couldn’t see. When they draw pictures, they take them to their father and make him touch them. Then, they talk about the drawings and their colors. They have always been proud of their father. They even ask him to meet with their teacher if there is a meeting at their school.”