In Turkey, the drama series “Kızılcık Şerbeti” (“Cranberry Sorbet”) found itself in hot water over an episode about violence against women. The series aired on Show TV, a popular Turkish television channel, in October 2022. In the show, a well-off but deeply conservative Turkish family is challenged when their son, Fatih, marries Doga, a woman from a secular, educated family with a line of strong, independent women. The plot thickens as the families must navigate through family events and learn to live together, albeit not always in harmony.
Ever since its release, it's been criticized by both fronts of Turkish society — the secularists as well as conservatives. But it was not until Episode 18 that domestic violence became a plot point. The daughter of the conservative family, Nursema, is thrown out of a window by her now husband, Ibrahim, on their wedding night. Nursema, who was married against her will, resists her husband's sexual advances, and he then accuses her of not being a virgin. As Nursema attempts to escape him, she approaches a window, threatening to commit suicide. In the end, it is the husband who pushes her out of the window.
The scene prompted the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), the country's chief censor, to fine the series TRY 1.5 million (USD 77,800) and order a broadcast ban that was to last five weeks over what the country's main censor described as encouraging violence against women. The move caused an uproar among the show's fans. #KızılcıkŞerbetineDokunma [Don't touch Cranberry Sorbet] trended on Turkish Twitter Space with fans as well as actors tweeting in support of reinstating the show. Among voices to air their concerns were Sıla Türkoğlu, one of the lead actresses in the show:
Toplumumuzda kadınlarımızın yaşadığı acı gerçeklerle yüzleştirdiğimiz ve susan kadın karakterler göstermediğimiz için mi?
— Sıla Türkoğlu (@silaturkogluu) March 31, 2023
Is it because we confront the bitter truths of our women in our society and do not show silent female characters? RTUK don't touch cranberry sorbet.
Barış Kılıç, another male actor in the show simply tweeted the hashtag with an image of the show's cover photo:
Barış Kılıç (@BrsKILIC) April 2, 2023
Other actors of the show chimed in. Müjde Uzman tweeted, “Art criticizes. It holds a mirror. It improves the perception and interest in the good and the beautiful. [A Turkish proverb says] the one who speaks truth would be expelled from nine villages. We are here. RTÜK #DontTouchCranberrySorbet.”
Joining the actors were scores of fans, politicians, and others like the Milliyet newspaper columnist Cemal Günbaş who wrote on Twitter, “Unfortunately, the truth has never been accepted and is not accepted in this country! What bothered you so much, I wonder? What right do you have to decide what I will watch, what I will find right or not?” addressing RTÜK's decision.
Member of the opposition DEVA party, Elif Menderes, tweeted, “Silent until now, you remembered about social sensitivities only after Nursema spoke? We don't want biased, freedom-restricting @rtukkurumsal! You can't silence women! Enough!” Menderes was referring to a fiery and emotional speech Nursema delivered to her in-laws and parents after the arduous journey of her escape: “Daddy, remember the day you married me off? This psychopath [pointing at her husband] pushed me out of the window. I spent two days in intensive care. I got edema in my brain, mother. And you, in the meantime, all thought I was on my honeymoon with this psychopath in Italy. How come you did not even bother to think of me? I returned to this house because I wanted to tell you all what happened to me. Now, I am leaving. I won't stay with this psychopath in the same house, nor do I intend to come close to him ever again.”