Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has caused controversy with a speech on International Women’s Day in Ankara, saying: “I know there will be some who will be annoyed, but for me a woman is above all a mother.”
The conservative president has come under fire before for the treatment of women in his country. He’s angered women’s rights activists by saying women are not equal to men and introduced policy proposals to limit abortion rights, the morning-after pill, and Caesarian sections. Describing birth control as “treason,” the leader of the ruling AKP party previously urged Turkish women to have at least three children each.
In his speech on Tuesday, he extolled the virtues of motherhood, using verses from the Quran and asking the audience to “protect the family,” telling them: “You cannot free women by destroying the notion of family.”
Thousands of women took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara on Tuesday night, protesting the president’s remarks and calling for equality. “The policy of the AKP and the male hegemony that dominates our society is intended to keep women at the heart of the home and the family,” a protester told the AFP.
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