“Islam has defined a position for women”

More on Turkey’s Family and Social Policy Minister Ayşenur İslam via an article in Today’s Zaman last November.

An activist who was kicked out of the Women and Justice Summit organized by the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) on Monday has said Erdoğan committed an unconstitutional act by saying men and women are not equal.

On the first day of the conference activist Fikriye Yılmaz was silenced and forcibly removed from the room by security at the request of Family and Social Policy Minister Ayşenur İslam after Yılmaz attempted to ask a question during a speech by the minister.

Yılmaz, a member of the We Will Stop the Murders of Women Platform, spoke with Today’s Zaman about her experience and the message she was trying to get across to the minister and to the public. Yılmaz said that last week when İslam was asked by a reporter how many women had been killed in Turkey, İslam responded that she did not know and referred the reporter to the minister of justice.

“It is very clear that they cannot even tolerate our questions. It is impossible for her to be ignorant of the number of women who have been killed. They do not want to know because they are aware that women are being killed because they are not enforcing the laws [that protect women]. They do not answer our questions because they do not want to admit this to the public,” Yılmaz said.

Why don’t they want to? Is it just because they’re lazy or too busy or out of funds? Or is it because they’re ideologically committed, as Islamists, to treating women as inferior and subordinate in every way, as Erdogan’s remarks suggest?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also spoke at the conference and made controversial statements that have gained the attention of the international media. At the conference, which was organized to support female empowerment, the president said: “You cannot bring women and men into an equal position; this is against nature. You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man.”

The president continued: “You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. … Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women [in society]: motherhood. Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

Liar. Of course we “accept the concept of motherhood.” What we don’t accept is the claim that it defines us, the way Erdogan does there – “Our religion has defined a position for women: motherhood.” We don’t accept that it’s all we can do, and we don’t accept that we all have to do it.

The president’s comments contradict commonly accepted definitions of feminism, which generally characterize it as advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

Yılmaz also commented on the president’s comments, saying: “He has no right to say this because he, as the president, has to act in accordance with the Constitution, and the Constitution states that men and women are equal. As long as he is the president, he cannot speak like this. It is a criminal offense. He has overstepped his boundaries.”

I wish the US Constitution stated that. But it doesn’t.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    …and considering how every single Republican, male AND female, voted AGAINST the Paycheck Fairness Act which would have addressed the discrepancies between men’s wages and women’s lower wages for the same work, it’s not going to be added any time soon.

  2. RJW says

    Turkey, secular one day, Islamist the next, now there’s only Indonesia left, the last domino. Constitutions are just pieces of paper without the will to enforce them. Turkey’s armed forces have traditionally been regarded as pro-secular, if Erdogan and his cronies have managed to subvert them, it’s the beginning of the end for secularism in Turkey.

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