Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Sexist Comments
On November 24th, 2014, the BBC reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a number of comments with regards to women and men. In this statements, Erdogan was quoted as saying that “”You cannot put women and men on an equal footing…”. He went on to say that “[i]t is against nature.” Along with these statements, Erdogan, when speaking about women in the workplace, was also quoted as saying that “In the workplace, you cannot treat a man and a pregnant woman in the same way…”. Moreover, he went on to say that “Women cannot do all the work done by men, he added, because it was against their “delicate nature””. Erdogan also went on to criticize feminists with regards to ideas of motherhood.
These comments are quite troubling for the advancement of equal gender rights in Turkey and throughout the entire world. Erdogan is making statements that are contrary to what human rights advocates have been working for. Men and women are equal, and must be treated as such, whether in the public or private sphere. There is no place for such comments, and these statements only hurt the equality movement. Furthermore, these sorts of statements are not part of Islam; when one looks at the interpretations of the Quran and other aspects of Islam, one sees the importance of equality before God.
There has been an important reformist movement in Islam that continues to challenge these sorts of sexist comments. It is important that we continue to do that with Erdogan’s comments, as well as with any other similar statements. We must, in our language, and in our actions, ensure that we see all genders, all races, all ethnicities, all religions, etc…as equal members of the global human family. Sadly, Erdogan’s statements are pushing against the currents of progress and change for women’s rights in Turkey and in the world.