Tattoos are so common place now that most of us (myself included), take for granted how easy it is to get one and have it plainly visible for others to see. For the most part, those of you reading this blog right now don’t live in a society that makes having a tattoo a criminal act. As much of a tendency as I have to write all kinds of stuff on this blog about the injustices that tattooed people face on a day to day basis, we tattooed people actually have the right to get tattooed in the first place without having our lives completely altered. There are numerous societies around the world that say no to its citizenry having tattoos. Some do this out of a strict religious observance, others do it because of what is commonly felt to be a moral superiority over those who deign to be tattooed. In these places, there is no consideration of an individual’s right to be tattooed or of tattoo as a valid art form.
A recent decision by Turkey’s government has now made it illegal for students in all schools to be pierced or tattooed. Students could be punished with reprimands, suspension or expulsion merely for having a tattoo. Other infractions have been added to the no-go list as well, including dyeing one’s hair or growing a beard but nothing is as unreasonable as a student not being permitted to have a tattoo. I’m not talking about denying a student the right to get a tattoo if they want one – which is wrong as well; I’m talking about the extremely shortsighted decision to ban all tattoos from schools without considering the effect that this will have on students who are already tattooed. I mean, what are these kids supposed to do – undergo costly tattoo removal procedures simply because the government decided it was going to stick its nose where it didn’t belong?
For the record, this is not the first time that the Turkish government has issued insane demands to its citizenry. Anyone who is up on their current affairs will know all about the crack down on students and activists two summers ago when the government in Istanbul decided that they wanted to destroy one of the last remaining green spaces in the city in Gezi Park for the creation of a shopping mall. There was massive resistance to this plan and the government used brutal and repressive means to crack down on the protests. I had the good fortune of visiting Turkey last winter and saw first hand the wanton and awful nature of the Turkish government. The Turkish people are kind and friendly people and they do not deserve the current corrupt government they have, lead by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Can you imagine being a student in university and being told that you are no longer allowed to have your tattoo(s)? Neither can I. At present time it is not known how those who already have tattoos are going to be dealt with under this new ban, but if the callousness and general disregard of the Turkish government for its people is any indication, things will not bode well for the already tattooed. All I can say is that I hope this ban is lifted soon and I hope the Turkish people find the freedom that they so desperately need and deserve.