Women’s rights

Former Miss Turkey hit with 14-month suspended sentence for “insulting” country’s president

Merve Buyuksarac (Photo by S. Alemdar/Getty Images for Maybelline)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again moved to restrict women’s freedoms in the country this weekend as he won a conviction in a defamation case against a former Miss Turkey contestant and told Muslim women in the country that they should not use birth control.

Erdogan has drawn concern from women’s rights groups in the country in recent months as he has told women they should have more children and saying they were not equal to men, according to The Guardian. Erdogan’s leadership in Turkey has begun to reverse the country’s reputation as a stable, Muslim democracy. The president’s most recent remarks on women came on Monday at an educational foundation event in Istanbul.

“I say this openly: We will increase our descendants, we will increase our population. Family planning, birth control, no Muslim family can practice such an understanding,” he said, according to The Independent. “Whatever our Lord says, whatever our beloved Prophet says, we shall follow that path.”

The remarks came just hours before a Turkish court convicted former Miss Turkey contestant Merve Büyüksaraç for posting a satirical poem about Erdogan online, handing her a 14-month suspended sentence. The suspended sentence means Büyüksaraç will only have to serve prison time if she’s accused of the same offense a second time. Her lawyers have vowed to fight the verdict. The prosecution was one of more than 2,000 defamation cases Erdogan has filed since he became president, using a law prohibiting insults against the president that had been only rarely used by the country’s leaders before him.

Read the full stories at The Independent and The Guardian.

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