Gender equality triggers suicides, Turkish PM suggests

Gender equality triggers suicides, Turkish PM suggests

Gender equality triggers suicides, Turkish PM suggests

Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu (L) attended a program Dec. 4, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the adoption of universal sufferage by Turkey. Sare Davutoğlu (C), his wife, handed a placard to Eskişehir Mihalgazi Mayor Zeynep Akgün (R). Hürriyet photo / Selahattin Sönmez

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu linked "mechanical equality" in gender relations in developed countries to higher suicide rates, in a speech delivered on Dec. 4.

"Why is the Gross National Product in most developed countries – I don’t want to name it but in Scandinavian countries and in many other countries – at the highest level, while the suicide rate is also at the highest level? Why?” Davutoğlu asked, before citing the system of "mechanical equality” in gender relations

Speaking at a meeting hosted by the women’s branch of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the prime minister stressed the importance of "motherhood" and described his government as a "champion" on the matter.

He also touched on the issue of violence against women. “Whoever uses violence against women, he actually displays his own weakness and dishonor. No matter if it is among the family, even by a father against his daughter in the form of a slap [in the face] as sign of compassion, it will leave deep traces in the hearts of those children,” Davutoğlu said.

“No matter if it on the street, against a woman who is considered weak, all of this violence is a direct assault on human honor, and fighting against this assault is a mission for all of us,” he added.

Since the AKP came to power in 2002, there have been great advances in the representation of women in Parliament, Davutoğlu said, citing the fact that 14.5 percent of AKP deputies elected in the most recent 2011 parliamentary elections were women.

“We should increase this to at least 25 percent in the shortest time. As the AK Party [AKP], we will do whatever this requires. The AK Party doesn’t follow others, it drags others to follow its lead,” he added.

Gov't criticized by women's groups

Women’s rights activists and lawyers often criticize the AKP government, which was led by then-Prime Minister, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, from 2003 until he was elected to the presidency in August, for the increasingly conservative and authoritarian political culture they say it is fostering.

Turkey ranked 120th of 136 nations in the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Gender Gap Index, down 15 places since 2006, while a 2011 U.N. report indicated that Turkey’s domestic violence rates are almost twice those in the United States and 10 times higher than in some European countries.

Ambiguously echoing Erdoğan’s stance blessing and promoting motherhood role for women, Davutoğlu suggested that today humanity needed “family compassion” more than ever.

Elaborating on the concept of “mechanical equality” he used to criticize Scandinavian-style gender policies, the Turkish PM said such an understanding did not attribute “equality in terms of honor” to different genders. Those approaching gender equality as “mechanical equality” are also beginning to “destroy the complementary relationship in life,” he added.

“That’s why, since our women are fulfilling that divine mission of keeping humanity alive, then they have the right to rest before and after becoming a mother and spare time for their children. Granting this is not a favor, it is just paying a debt,” Davutoğlu said.