Turkish Instagram star on trial for showing ‘obscenity’

By: News Desk      Published: 10:12 AM, 6 Aug, 2021
Turkish Instagram star on trial for showing ‘obscenity’
File photo.

A young Turkish social media influencer has said she is on trial for posting “joking” pictures inside the sex museum in the Dutch city of Amsterdam.

Merv Taskin, 23, shared photos of sex toys she bought from the museum during a birthday trip in January last year. A few months after the photos were posted, she was arrested in Turkey, where sharing any indecent content is a crime.

The young woman says she was summoned to court to face “obscenity charges”.

Under Turkish law, anyone who publishes indecent material can be fined or imprisoned for up to three years.

“My goal was to joke,” said Taskin, a prominent Instagram personality in Turkey with nearly 600,000 followers, in an interview with BBC.

“I’m afraid to testify in court”

Taskin, who lives in Istanbul, said she visited Amsterdam with two friends to celebrate her 22nd birthday. The itinerary included a visit to the Sex Museum, which is one of the city’s tourist attractions.

Inside the museum, she shared on Instagram photos of the merchandise for sale. For her the photos were innocent enough, but the authorities in Turkey had another point of view.

Taskin says she was arrested twice in the months following her return, once during the summer vacation and the second time when she gave a statement to the prosecution.

Taskin then thought it was over, but earlier this year she was surprised to receive a text message summoning her to a court in Istanbul. Taskin says she has deleted many of the tweets since receiving the court summons “so they won’t complain again.”

Taskin said she was afraid to testify in court but would do so voluntarily. She tweeted about her summons to court last week, and this increased the case’s wide coverage in the Netherlands.


“So ridiculous”

The director of the Museum of Sex, Monique van Marley, told BBC she found the situation “absolutely ridiculous”. She added that the museum sent a letter to Tuskin saying, “We are sorry to hear about the problem you are facing,” and described the letter as “an example from which other women should learn.”

“Our museum aims to educate people around the world about the history of sexuality. We admire you for expressing yourself and posting pictures,” the letter read.

Rights groups say freedom of expression on the Internet is deteriorating under the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Freedom House says that Turkey “remains one of the most challenging places in the European region to exercise the individual’s right to freedom of expression and opinion”.

She added that journalists, activists and opposition figures face “widespread persecution for criticizing the government”.

Last year, it tightened censorship on social media, after the Turkish parliament passed a law to control these platforms.