Oh dear. It seems that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has gone and put his foot in it again while attending at the Women and Justice Summit in Istanbul on Monday. While addressing this conference he reminded us all that you cannot put men and women on an equal footing as women are not equal. “It is against nature,” he said. “They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.” He went on to talk about how you cannot compare a breastfeeding woman to a man as well as attacking feminism and feminists claiming that they “reject the concept of motherhood.” Jeeze!
As a woman I can be outraged at the polarising statement made by the Turkish President and when I start to look at women’s rights in Türkiye I realise that Erdoğan’s statement really is only the tip of the iceberg of inequality here. At the conference Erdoğan went on to state that only a small percentage of women actually had legal employment in Türkiye however there was a very large uncounted percentage of women who worked on the land while the men “played cards”. People (including his daughter Sumeyye) cheered Erdogan at this point. “Yes it is true! The women DO do all the work!” Erdogan nodded smiling at his constituents no doubt believing that he is all goodness and generosity with his words and time.
Sure it is true but let me tell you what else is true for women here in Türkiye. It is estimated that 40% of women have suffered from domestic violence in Türkiye. I suspect that this estimate is actually a lot higher but reporting is frowned upon. It is merely a case of boys being boys.
How about the number of women murdered by family members here in Turkey? In 2009 the number was 3 women a day (I do not have the 2014 figure).
How about we discuss the number of underage weddings that take place here in Türkiye each year? Should I mention that Erdoğan’s Presidential predecessor Abdullah Gul married his wife when she was merely 15 years old?
Finally should I remind you that Erdoğan has attempted to outlaw abortion, the morning after pill and limit caesarean sections and at that same speech given in Istanbul on 24 November reminded women that they should have three or more children for the sake of the economy. Hello? What about the health, safety and the sanity of the woman giving birth to these children? And how about the continual welfare of the children who grow up in rural Türkiye when their family cannot support the children that they already have.
I read a statement issued by CHP Women’s Branch on 25 November that sums up the current policies that contribute to violence and behaviour of women in Turkiye. “As long as women are not free, as long as they are not adequately represented in the decision making mechanism, this society will not move forward”. Nice one.
Have a read of this piece posted on my Facebook page by fellow blogger Kerry from Earth Laughs in Flowers. The piece written by Aslihan Agaglu reminds us that women in Türkiye have long had strong women to look up to. Türkiye was at the forefront of women’s rights under the strong leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Turkish women have long had the right to vote and, rightly so, the right to voice their opinion. Someone simply needs to remind Erdoğan of these rights as I think he has forgotten.
Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, stand up for the rights of women everywhere and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.