Women all over the world have taken to social media to protest a Turkish politician’s assertion that women should not laugh in public.
“Chastity is so important,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said in a meeting last Monday. “A woman will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh out loud in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.”
Arınç’s remarks were immediately met with ridicule on Twitter and Instagram, where Turkish women began posting photographs of themselves laughing with the hashtags #kahkaha (“laughter”), #direnkahkaha (“resist laughter”), and #direnkadin (“resist women”).
The three hashtags have been tweeted more than 300,000 times over the last week.
On Friday, actress and UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson joined the movement, tweeting a photo of herself laughing. Watson also changed her Twitter profile picture from a formal head shot to one of her laughing.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report, Turkey was ranked #120 (out of 136 countries), and Turkish activists have argued that women’s rights in the country are only worsening. “No other [Turkish] government has been so radical against women,” said Ilke Gökdemir of Mor Cati, an organization to combat violence against women.