Turkish parliamentarian Fatma Kaplan-Hürriyet, pictured above with an Islamic marriage and family life handbook that ‘depicts woman as second-class citizens and sexual slaves’, is demanding that legal action be taken against the publication.
According to this report, Evlilik ve aile hayati was first brought to public attention when it was handed out in the city of Kütahya.
Zeliha Aksaz Sahbaz, the leader of Kütahya’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), condemned it in December 2016.
The free guide on married life to newlyweds that says beating wives is justifiable in some cases – for example if a woman refuses to wear makeup for her husband.
It recommends that:
A wife has to remain quiet and apologise if her husband is angry with her.
The book also warns women not to talk during sex “as this will lead to a child developing a stutter” and that they should stay away from public parks and sports facilities. Polygamy is suggested as a way to keep a “wayward” woman in check, as it apparently creates competition among wives.
The book also allows for children as young as ten to be married.
But the mayor of Kütahya, Kamil Saracoglu, above, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), defended the book in an interview, saying there had never been any complaints and that the advice given in the document was based on Islamic principles.
Copies of the same book published under a slightly different title, Marriage and Privacy, were also found in the resort town of Pamukkale. Issued by Pamukkale’s city council, those copies have reportedly even made their way to the parliamentary library in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
Parliamentarian Fatma Kaplan-Hürriyet picked up one of those copies and said in parliament that the writings were in breach of the Turkish constitution, adding that they were reminiscent of sharia law.
Kaplan-Hürriyet, also a member of the opposition CHP, said that she sent a request to the municipal prosecution services in Kütahya and Pamukkale, which are both run by the AKP, to start legal proceedings against the book. If they failed to take action, Hürriyet warned, she would take matters into her own hands, seeking to make sure that taxpayers’ money wasn’t spent on hate speech.
Each time the AKP mentions the issue of violence against women I will throw this book at them. Whenever they mention child marriage I will stick this book into their eyes.
She added that she might bring a lawsuit against the municipalities involved in the distribution of the book to newlyweds.
Kaplan’s outspoken activism against the publication has drawn a lot of attention in Turkish media.
Members of the AKP, founded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have acknowledged that the books were unsuitable as actual marriage guidelines; they have, however, not initiated any discourse on the legal status of the writings so far.
Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz merely described the guidelines as “primitive.”
The guide was penned by Hasan Caliskan, a former employee of Turkey’s powerful Ministry of Religious Affairs, known as Diyanet, which under successive AKP governments has seen a major increase in funding and support. In reaction to the controversy, Diyanet has reportedly announced that municipalities should ask the ministry before deciding to distribute the book.
Diyanet was most recently in the news for condemning a progressive mosque in Germany.
Ironically, Diyanet was set up by the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to keep religious affairs separate from government. But Turkish President Erdogan has turned this idea on its head and has used the ministry as a way to further expand the influence of Islamist ideas in the public sphere.
Erdogan has openly spoken against equality between men and women, always stressing the role of women as mothers
Women in Turkey have repeatedly protested against violence in recent years, but their message appears to fall on deaf ears with the AKP government
Women’s rights groups are, among other things, enraged by attempts in parliament to pardon child rapists, if they agree to marry the rape victim. The motion was rejected only after protests across the country. Earlier in 2016, reports surfaced about child abuse in a government-sponsored charity for children – one that was headed by a woman.
The December 2015 rape and murder of student Özgecan Aslan led to protests across the country, but resulted in little to no reaction in government circles. Violence against transgender women meanwhile remains rampant, as many manage to find an income only as prostitutes.
And last month Turkish police prevented a planned a gay pride parade in Istanbul with tear gas and rubber bullets. Participants were also attacked by police thugs.