On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged women in Turkey to bear at least three children, claiming that, without motherhood, their lives are “incomplete.”
Turkey’s population rose 1.3% last year, to some 78.7 million, 10 million higher than in 2000. Erdogan hopes to persuade Turkish women to help increase the country’s numbers, commenting that, “Rejecting motherhood means giving up on humanity.” The Turkish president added, “every member of the nation should be mobilised.”
In a speech to the Turkey’s Women’s and Democracy Association (KADEM), the increasingly dictatorial president claimed that he supports women having careers, and that Turkey has taken “important steps” toward supporting working women. Erdogan stated, however, that a woman’s career must not be an “obstacle” to her executing what he suggested were her maternal duties. The deputy chair of the Turkish women’s advocacy group is a man, Erdogan’s son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar.
“The fact that a woman is attached to her professional life should not prevent her from being a mother…I absolutely don’t accept making (a woman’s) business life an alternative to motherhood.” he said.
Erdogan continued his natal advice on Monday, saying in a speech, “A woman who says ‘because I am working I will not be a mother’ is actually denying her femininity…A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete.”
Erdogan has also recently come out against birth control, saying on Istanbul television in May that, “We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach.” He also called the use of birth control, “treason.” Erdogan has fended off allegations of sexism by claiming his administration has helped women in the country make strides socially and politically, pointing to the appointment of a woman as head of the Family Ministry, the only female minister in Parliament.
The Family Ministry launched a “battle against loneliness” in 2014, pressuring single Turks to marry with statements like “You are headless. You go about with your heads in a plastic bag. You deplete our electricity, fuel and goods, and produce bigger waste. You disturb the order. Get married!”
Turkey’s ministry of Justice has marked a 1400% increase in the murder of women between 2007-2010.