Melahat Ruacan

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Melahat Ruacan
Melahat Ruacan.png
Melahat Senger

EducationErenköy Girls High School
Alma materIstanbul University
Ankara University, Law School
Known forFirst female supreme court judge
Children1, Şevket Ruacan [tr]

Melahat Senger-Ruacan (1906–1974) was a female Turkish high court judge and the first woman elected to any supreme court in the world.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

The first child of Col. Nuri and his wife Güzide,[3] she attended Erenköy Girls High School[4] (Turkish: Erenköy Kız Lisesi), an exclusive lycée in Istanbul, and later studied philosophy at Istanbul University. Following Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s establishment of Ankara as the capital of the Turkish Republic, a new university was founded in the city. Melahat Senger moved to the new capital to attend the Faculty of Law at Ankara University from 1925–1929 and finished her studies as the first female graduate of this new school with high honors. In 1938, she married Asım Ruacan, a colleague in law, and had one son with him.[3]

Career and later life[edit]

She worked as a judge throughout Turkey, and in 1945, she was appointed to the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargıtay) as its first female member.[2][4] She decided many crucial cases. During the politically turbulent years of the Democrat Party administration (1950–1960) in Turkey, she was forced to retire from her post because of her steadfast refusal to bend the principles of law to serve the political party in power. She successfully challenged her forced retirement in court, and was reinstated to the appellant bench in 1963 with full honors and compensation.[3]

Judge Ruacan was a fearless advocate of the principles of the law and was also an untiring defender of women’s rights, following Atatürk’s Kemalist ideology throughout her life.

She died of a heart attack in Ankara, Turkey, in 1974.[3]


  1. ^ Daniloff, Ruth (1979-05-06). "In Turkey the Sexes Are Equal, Almost". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2018-04-17. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  2. ^ a b "Dünyanın ilk kadın yargıtay üyesi bir Türk'tü". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2018-04-06. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  3. ^ a b c d Personal communication with Judge Ruacan’s son, Prof. Dr. Şevket Ruacan, 2010
  4. ^ a b Hiçyılmaz, Ergün (2004-03-17). "Hukukun cesur kadınları". Sabah. Archived from the original on 2018-04-27. Retrieved 2018-04-27.