OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OF REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

Dear Mr. President,
 
You have acted as the head of government in Turkey for long years. During the first five year period of premiership, your government presented a view of enforced dialogue and harmony with women associations and the European Union for Turkey’s EU membership goal. In cooperation with women associations, the then-Ministry for Women and Family Issues enacted the law for combating violence against women (law no 6284). However, the law was enacted not in the form it was agreed by women associations and the stated ministry at the table but in the form amended by men who decided on behalf of women against human rights of women. Since the first time you came together with women associations at Dolmabahçe, you have been systematically repeating your statement that you do not believe in gender equality. You have made numerous statements including how many children we are expected to have, the type of giving birth, abortion, what we should wear, our rights at work places, and even at what age we need to get married, all of which target women’s human rights and insult women. You have encouraged the ones who define women over motherhood and with being “virtuous wife.” Their dominance over women have been increasingly continuing, gender inequality and femicide in Turkey have turned out to be ordinary daily issues.
 
You have targeted women on Sunday (5 June) one more time at the opening ceremony of the new building of KADEM (Association of Women and Democracy), of which your daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan has been a member of board of directors, by stating childless women to be deficient. You are insulting women one more time with your mentality which presents motherhood as the highest status for women and excludes women who neither have children nor want to have any. You want to create a hierarchy among women with children and without children. You want to identify women over their fertility and totally ignore their identity as free individuals. We, as women, are aware of your efforts to keep women at home under the mask of flexible working hours and your intention to prune our rights with the work of the divorce commission of the Assembly. We are collecting all these in the memory and archives of women’s movement in Turkey. Our struggle is getting stronger and we will not surrender to bigotry’s hypocritical morality.
 
Mr. President,
 
As a civil society organization that has been defending human rights since 1976, our humbly
suggestion to you is to change your advisors because they misrepresent democracy and
gender equality. Democracy does not mean creating new agenda over women’s bodies
according to your personal political priorities. But it means listening to demands of women
who form half of the population in this country. It means taking all necessary measures
against any forms of discrimination among its citizens based on ethnicity, gender, religion,
religious sect, and sexual orientation. Women’s freedom is only possible in a secular country
where all citizens enjoy equal rights, but not in an order defined based on religious
references.
 
Mr. President,
 
Do not forget that there is an organized and rooted women’s movement in this country that
has set the principle of modern and equal life as its ultimate goal. There is always some
excuses for men’s violence against women and your statements strengthen these excuses.
We, as the women in this country, refute your politics over women’s bodies, do not accept
your misogynist discourse and statements.
 
If you wonder what we can do, you shall watch and see.
 
 
Canan GÜLLÜ
President of Turkey’s Federation of Women Associations

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