Turkey’s President: Birth Control Shouldn’t be Used by Muslim Women
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no stranger to inflammatory remarks, and is not shy about offending large swaths of people, even citizens of the country he presides over. On Monday while speaking at an educational foundation in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, Erdogan called on women to abstain from contraception, and to “multiply [their] descendants.”
“People talk about birth control, about family planning. No Muslim family can understand and accept that!” he said. “As God and as the great prophet said, we will go this way. And in this respect the first duty belongs to mothers.”
Erdogan, who has four children with his wife Emine, has called on Turkish women to bear at least three children, and that “four means abundance.” Turkey is the world’s nineteenth most populous nation with almost 80 million people, according to United Nations estimates.
The Koran, Islam’s holy scripture, does not explicitly condemn contraception. Eight of the nine schools of Islamic law permit the practice. And while Turkey is technically a secular democracy, Erdogan’s party, the AKP, is made up of Islamists, and critics (as well as global partners like the U.S.) fear that he is slowly steering his country in the direction of an Islamic dictatorship.
He’s jailed journalists and former military officers. Most recently, he booted Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a move that critics saw as an attempt remove a man who he perceived a threat to his power.
Erdogan has also made a habit of offending women. In 2014, at a conference for justice and rights for women, he insisted that men and women are not in fact equal: “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he said. “It is against her nature — because her nature is different, her bodily constitution is different.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, the Platform to Stop Violence Against Women, a women’s rights group, rejected Erdogan’s comments: “You cannot usurp our right to contraception, nor our other rights with your declarations that come out of the Middle Ages. We will protect our rights.”