Presence of pregnant women in public is ‘disgraceful,’ says Turkish lawyer
Ömer Tuğrul İnançer said pregnant women should not wander on the streets. REUTERS Photo
Turkish lawyer and Sufi thinker Ömer Tuğrul İnançer has sparked a public outcry after telling state television station TRT 1 that it was immoral for pregnant women with huge bellies to reveal themselves in public.
“Announcing pregnancy with a flourish of trumpets is against our civility. [They] should not wander on the streets with such bellies. First of all, it is not aesthetic,” İnançer said. “After seven or eight months of pregnancy, future mothers go out their husbands by car to get some fresh air. And they go out in the evening hours. But now, they are all on television. It’s disgraceful. It is not realism, it is immorality.”
After İnançer’s remarks, the program’s host said, “May God be pleased with you” in response.
Meanwhile, TRT officials said the comments expressed belonged only to İnançer and did not reflect the official view of the channel.
Lawyer stands by remarks
İnançer defended his remarks today, insisting that the appearance of pregnant women was not aesthetic, according to Anadolu Agency.
“You get married and get pregnant. Okay, you did well. [However], this can not be singled out as the reason you are swinging your belly. The image is not aesthetic. I am still saying the same thing. Why don’t you understand?” These are venerable things. And venerable things are kept in a respectful way,” he said.
“Pregnancy is not made that apparent. Moreover, that’s why young girls are scared of giving birth,” İnançer said.
İnançer also said companies gave maternity leave not so that women could “wander” the streets, but to stay in their homes.
No isolation against women: Religious Affairs Directorate
There is not isolation against women in Islam, and being a mother is a gift, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate said in a statement following the reactions.
“There is nothing like isolation against women in the religion. There is no isolation for pregnant women, either. On the contrary, being mother is a gift,” the statement said, while still calling on pregnant women to dress modestly. “However, pregnant women should be more careful about their dressing – every woman should. [They] should not wear clothes showing their bellies or backs.”
It also emphasized that “we learn religion from the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.”
Reactions from lawmakers
Lawmakers from the opposition and ruling parties strongly condemned İnançer and his remarks. Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy and former minister Nimet Baş said no one could limit women according to men’s aesthetic understanding.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aylin Nazlıaka said any understanding that dictated what women could say, how many children they could have and how to give birth was unacceptable.
“They should stop taking on women in this country. They would intervene in the air that women breath [if they could],” Nazlıaka said.
Mehmet Oktay, a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy, also slammed İnançer’s words, recalling Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s suggestions about how many children families were supposed to have.
“[İnançer says] pregnant women on streets are disgraceful. Isn’t it disgraceful when Prime Minister Erdoğan tells [people] to have at least three children or five children?” Oktay said. “Isn’t it disgraceful when the prime minister bargains with the bride and groom for children?”
Oktay also criticized TRT1 for becoming a one-sided propaganda establishment.
İnançer’s words also attracted a flurry of criticism on social media, with the hashtag #Ömer Tuğrul İnançer trending on Twitter, while others called on Facebook users to lodge a complaint against TRT1 and İnançer at the media watchdog RTÜK.
Activists have also called for people to march on Taksim’s İstiklal Avenue at 7 p.m. with pillows under the shirts to show support for pregnant women.