Duygu Asena; Advocate for Turkish Women

Associated Press
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

ANKARA, Turkey -- Duygu Asena, a best-selling writer and crusader for women's rights in Turkey, died July 30 after a two-year battle with a brain tumor. She was 60.

Ms. Asena, author of "Woman Has No Name," died in Istanbul's American Hospital after being admitted July 27 with a high temperature and respiratory problems, the hospital said.

She had trained to be a teacher but began writing for newspaper women's pages in the early 1970s. "I soon figured out that writing about butterflies and cooking every day was not for me. I had to give a message," she said in a 1994 interview with the Associated Press.

Her message to women, as she wrote in a magazine article, was this: "Escape the vicious circle. Fight for your equal rights," and get a job as a first step toward freedom.

In 1978, Ms. Asena founded the first women's magazine in Turkey. She was the first Turkish writer to explore such topics as women's rights, sexuality and wife-beating.

"Woman Has No Name" broke sales records when it was printed in 1987, but the book was soon banned by the government, which found it lewd and obscene. The ban was lifted after a two-year court battle. A film adaptation of the book broke box office records in Turkey.

Ms. Asena wrote eight other feminist novels, including "There Is No Love," a sequel to "Woman Has No Name," and she wrote weekly newspaper columns.

In her 1994 interview, she had a mixed view of the progress women had made in Turkey. "We've come a long way," she told the Associated Press, "but there's still a long way to go."

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