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Hande Çayır

How do human beings experience the surname change issue in terms of the protection of equal legal, social and economic rights, with particular reference to the documentary Yok Anasının Soyadı / Mrs. His Name? Indeed, my surname was also changed without my consent after my marriage. One day I realised I had two diplomas, each with a different name on it; however, both those people are me. Visually, my name has multiplied like an amoeba: Hande Çayır, Hande Aydın, Hande Çayır Aydın. From this visible sign, people around me – for example, the civil establishment – have gained the apparent right to talk about my personal life in the public sphere. Afterwards, I remembered the feminist quote ‘the personal is the political,’ started my own research, and found out that women in Turkey are required to change their surname when they marry and divorce. If they would like to continue using their ex-husband’s surname after a divorce, they need to get permission from both the ex-husband and the State. Because of this unfair policy, some women have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as the motion was opposed in Turkish courts, and subsequently the ECHR is requiring the Turkish Government to pay an indemnity. Thus, the link between surnames and identity is a crucial human rights debate. The media portrays this issue as one that is currently being solved. However, after my visit to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, I came to the conclusion that the process is not moving forward at all. As an emerging researcher and filmmaker, I have made the seventeen-minute documentary Yok Anasının Soyadı / Mrs. His Name (film: http://vimeo.com/48432993; password: handem82), which is defined as a form of self-narrative that places the self within a social context.