Turkish President Says Women Who Don’t Have Kids Are “Deficient”

Published June 6, 2016
Published June 6, 2016

ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

If you’re a woman who doesn’t want kids, Turkey’s president has one word to describe you: incomplete.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Istanbul’s Women and Democracy Association on Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had this to say about women who forgo having children:

“A woman who abstains from maternity by saying ‘I am working’ means that she is actually denying her femininity. This is my sincere thought. A woman who refuses maternity and gives up housekeeping faces the threats of losing her freedom. She is lacking and is a half [a person] no matter how successful she is in the business world.”

Instead of pursuing a career, Erdogan said that women should pursue producing several children. “I would recommend having at least three children,” Erdogan said. “The fact that a woman is attached to her professional life should not prevent her from being a mother.”

Erdogan made these views on family planning known just over a week after he opined on birth control. During a televised speech, the president called on Muslims to reject contraception in order to “multiply our descendants.”

The Turkish president’s views on women and their roles do not necessarily come as a surprise. In March, Erdogan said that “women are above all mothers.” In 2014, the Erdogan administration said that women should not laugh in public, and that women are not equal to men.

Erdogan is a member of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), and while early on he and the party were regarded as reformers, he began to shift toward conservatism and authoritarianism — which is where some critics suspect Erdogan may have wanted to take his party all along.

“It’s not that Erdogan and his AKP cadres did not believe in such a conservative vision early, it’s just that they feel that this is what they can implement because they have the public support to do so,” Soner Cagaptay, a Beyer Family Fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al Jazeera. “As they built their power base, they became less likely to listen to opposing views.”

Next, read about the Pakistani Islamic Council’s ruling that husbands can “lightly beat” their wives.