With satire, woman's magazine tackles taboos in Turkey

Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:12pm EDT
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By Ece Toksabay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A man stabs a woman in broad daylight in the middle of the street. "He is killing her!" "Don't do it!" "Call the police!" a group of passers-by scream, rushing to the woman's rescue.

"You won't divorce me!" the attacker shouts as he viciously plunges the knife into the woman. The passers-by suddenly turn their back on the couple. "Family matters," they say walking away. "None of our business."

The scene -- not uncommon in Turkey -- is a vignette in Bayan Yani, a Turkish woman's satirical magazine that tackles taboo issues with a mix of social criticism and acid humor.

Launched in March and produced by women cartoonists and women writers only, Bayan Yani has made a splash confronting uncomfortable topics such as "honor" killings, women's rights, sex, adultery and Islam, and with occasional irreverent glances at lighter fare such as weight loss or cellulite.

"This magazine has taken a huge step," Elif Nursad, a 31-year-old artist who makes psychedelic drawings, mostly inspired by cats and the female body, told Reuters.

"Other comic magazines in Turkey depict women as sex objects to increase circulation. We came together and formed something we didn't expect to be so successful. Turkey is a fast-consuming society and it's open to new things. Bayan Yani is a completely new discourse."

Bayan Yani means "the seat next to the woman's seat" -- referring to a Turkish convention on long-distance coaches under which a woman traveling alone is not seated next to a man.

The monthly magazine, which has a budget of $30,000 per month, has a circulation average of 50,000 copies -- a high number in a country where newspaper readership is normally low.   Continued...