Turkey rules children’s book on history’s inspiring women to be treated as porn

The book has been a publishing phenomenon since emerging in 2016 from one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns. (Photo courtesy/Franklin's Toy Store)
Updated 04 October 2019

Turkey rules children’s book on history’s inspiring women to be treated as porn

  • Turkey has ruled that million-selling book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” should be partially banned
  • The book, which has been published in 47 languages, offers a series of inspiring stories about women from history for young children

ISTANBUL: Turkey has ruled that million-selling book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” should be partially banned and treated like pornography because it could have a “detrimental influence” on young people.

The book, which has been published in 47 languages, offers a series of inspiring stories about women from history for young children.

But in a decision published last week, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications said: “Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18.”

That means it can only be sold to over-18s and must be concealed from view in shops.

Speaking to AFP on Friday, one of the authors, US-based Francesca Cavallo, said she was saddened by the decision.

“Girls deserve to grow up surrounded by more female role models. They deserve to grow up thinking that they can be anything they want,” she said.

“When a government is scared by a children’s book promoting equality, that means that promoting these messages through children’s literature can have and is having an impact, and it makes me even more motivated to keep fighting every day.”

The book has been a publishing phenomenon since emerging in 2016 from one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, spawning sequels, spinoffs and many copycats.

The only difficulty it has faced up to now was Russia’s decision to censor the story of a transgender girl that is one of the profiles in the book, Cavallo said.

The Turkish publishers’ association released a statement this week, saying the government decision was “a danger from the perspective of freedoms of expression and press, and a threat to the principles of a democratic society”.

The book’s Turkish publisher told AFP they were waiting for the decision to be officially communicated to them before commenting.


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!