Turkish Deputy PM’s rebuke against female deputy brings social media outrage
AFP PhotoTurkish Deputy PM Bülent Arınç stirred social media and women’s organizations with his latest sexist comment against Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Nursel Aydoğan, rebuking her to “be quiet as a woman.”
Bülent Arınç took the floor during a parliamentary session on July 29 when a proposal by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) to establish an inquiry commission on the recent terror attacks was being discussed.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Arınç argued that despite HDP Şanlıurfa deputy Osman Baydemir’s calls for peace, the HDP maintained close ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
HDP ranks loudly protested the deputy PM’s allegations, although exact comments were inaudible.
In response, Arınç pointed a finger at Aydoğan and scolded her to stay silent “as a woman.”
“Madam, be quiet, as a woman, be quiet,” he said.
Arınç’s scornful comment immediately raised eyebrows as HDP Istanbul deputy Pervin Buldan took the floor and demanded that the deputy PM apologize to Aydoğan and all women deputies in parliament.
After the parliamentary session was finalized, women deputies from the CHP and the HDP held separate press conferences to express their anger and ask Arınç to apologize.
Speaking on the CHP’s behalf, deputy chair Selin Sayek Böke said they found the articulation of sexist words unacceptable under the roof of parliament.
“As the CHP, we strongly condemn these sexist, discriminatory, derogatory comments that violate women’s rights. It is unacceptable to utter such words in parliament. We invite him to extend an apology,” she said.
The CHP’s press conference was followed by that of the HDP’s, where Buldan harshly criticized Arınç.
“Mr. Arınç has to leave aside his sexist approach. We want him to extend an apology to all women, starting with the HDP’s women deputies. As a paternalistic man, Arınç seemed intolerant of women’s standing in society. He finds the strength to warn women but not men,” Buldan said.
Aydoğan also commented on the incident, explaining she did not believe the comment was directed at her personally, but rather to women in general.
“This is in fact a manifestation of how the AKP [Justice and Development Party] mindset perceives women. I invite him to apologize,” Aydoğan said.
Meanwhile, Arınç’ comments roused ire on social media as news of his statement broke.
Sharing the picture of a single man advertising the AKP’s women’s branch in the central Anatolian province of Sivas, a user wrote, “AKP’s perception of women is the same as the photograph.”
Another user shared a retro photograph with the caption “NOOOO!” and the hashtag #BirKadınOlarakSusmayacağız.
Erktolia, a Turkish platform of international anti-sexism network Macholand, immediately started an online campaign and the hashtag “as a woman, we will not be quiet” (#BirKadınOlarakSusmayacağız, in Turkish) began trending in Turkey.
The platform also started an online petition campaign at change.org, urging Arınç to apologize.
“No individual can ask another individual to stay silent based on his/her gender. For this reason, as women, we do not remain quiet. We are not afraid of Arınç, we are not submitting to Arınç!” the online statement said.
As of now, Arınç only responded through his Twitter account, stating it is not his style to interfere with any deputy in parliament and accused HDP deputies with manipulation.
“It is not my style to verbally or physically interfere with any deputy working in the grand parliament,” he wrote.
“My statement was made in line with parliamentary discipline. HDP deputies are misleadingly making a scene.”
British daily the Independent featured Arınç in its 2014 list of politicians with the worst record of sexist offenses, due to his comment saying women should not laugh in public.
“[A woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness,” he said, using a term describing what is forbidden by Islamic law.