Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said on March 8, "Maternity is the greatest priority granted by Allah to women," at an event for the International Working Women’s Day at his presidential palace in Ankara.
"We are continuing to struggle against such a mindset that maltreats and even murders women with a feeling of supremacy. We have completed the deficiencies in our legislation, corrected the existing mistakes in our country," Erdoğan has said with reference to the increasing rates of femicide and acts of violence or sexual abuse in Turkey.
'I DON’T BELIEVE IN EQUALITY OF WOMEN AND MEN'
However, Erdoğan has stated many times that he does not believe in the equality of women and men. "According to our religion and Anatolian culture, women have an exceptional place. I don’t say women are equal to men, they are beyond," he said at a meeting on "women and democracy" last year.
Speaking to an audience at a summit in İstanbul on justice for women in 2014, Erdoğan said, "Women and men cannot be treated equally, because it goes against the laws of nature," sparking an outrage among women in the country.
"We have carried out some regulations providing women with continuing to work without any concession in every field from maternity leave to childcare services," Erdoğan has continued today. However, the rate of the informal sector is very high in Turkey as gender inequality hits female workers.
WOMEN FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN INFORMAL SECTOR AND MOTHERHOOD
According to a report by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, almost half of the women are employed informally, which deprives women of some basic rights like health insurance and retirement rights. The rate of young women unemployment shows an accelerating trend, rising up to 25 percent in 2017 from 20 percent in 2014. Most of the Turkish women in Turkey are either forced to work as cheap labour force or deal with domestic works and childcare.
"You cannot make women work in the same jobs as men do, as in communist regimes. You cannot give them a shovel and tell them to do their work. This is against their delicate nature," Erdoğan said in 2014, showing his and his government’s anti-communist and anti-labour approach that reproduces the social gender inequality.
Erdoğan is widely known with his "3-child project" in Turkey since he advises all the women to give birth to 3 children at least with an Islamic approach in an attempt to identify being a woman with motherhood. "Woman is the primary teacher of all humanity. Children learn everything from their mother for a long time. It starts before the birth. This is the divine part of the thing," he has said today in Ankara.
ABORTION DE FACTO PROHIBITED
"The paradise lies at the feet of the mother," Erdoğan has said, a statement that he often repeats with reference to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, adding that "the greatest priority granted by Allah to women is motherhood".
However, Erdoğan and his government are known with their hateful speeches on women. Research shows that violence against women has increased 1400% under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) between 2002-2012 in Turkey. Thousands of women were murdered and yet more thousands confronted systematic violence and sexual abuse.
Although Erdoğan often claims that his government has championed the women rights in Turkey, facts show quite the contrary. The government de facto prohibited abortion, which is a natural right of women.
"Abortion is not a contraceptive precaution. Abortion is murder", former Director of Religious Affairs, Mehmet Görmez, said last year, calling the women who claim their self-determination on their own bodies as "murderers". Anti-abortion policies of the AKP government has escalated so much that physicians are prevented from carrying out abortion operations even under medical necessities.
ERDOĞAN: 'ISLAM SHOULD BE UPDATED'
Meanwhile, Erdoğan has slammed some Islamic preachers, who give fatwas on social life, during his speech on 8 March, calling on the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) to take an active role in adapting Islamic practices to current social conditions.
"We would never take into account the words of some marginal people who aim at nothing but abusing the values of our religion, our nation", Erdoğan has said, implying such Islamic preachers as Nurettin Yıldız who advocate child marriage. "They are too incapable to know that Islam should be updated," he has added.
Erdoğan contradicts himself while saying that Islam should be updated considering that he previously criticized Saudi Arabia’s "moderate Islam" approach.