Turkey’s Erdogan says childless women are ‘incomplete’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Turkish women to have at least three children, saying a woman’s life is “incomplete” if she fails to have offspring.

Erdogan’s comments were the latest in a series of controversial remarks aimed at encouraging women to help boost Turkey’s population, which has already risen exponentially in recent years.

The president emphasised he was a strong supporter of women having careers, but said that this should not be an “obstacle” to having children.

“Rejecting motherhood means giving up on humanity,” Erdogan said in a speech marking the opening of the new building of Turkey’s Women’s and Democracy Association (KADEM).

“I would recommend having at least three children,” added the president.

“The fact that a woman is attached to her professional life should not prevent her from being a mother,” he added, saying that Turkey had taken “important steps” to support working mothers.

Stance against contraception

Erdogan had on Monday said that family planning and contraception were not for Muslim families, prompting fury among activists.

In his speech on Sunday he went on to add: “A woman who says ‘because I am working I will not be a mother’ is actually denying her feminity.”

“A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is deficient, is incomplete,” he added.

According to the statistics office, Turkey’s population rose to 78.7 million last year, a growth rate of around 1.3 percent. The population in 2000 was less than 68 million.

However, Erdogan indicated he wanted more, saying Turkey is a country “with great goals” and to achieve them “every member of the nation should be mobilised.

“Strong families lead to strong nations,” he said.

Erdogan has two daughters and two sons with his wife Emine.

His younger daughter, Sumeyye, who last month married defence industrialist Selcuk Bayraktar in a high-profile wedding, is the deputy chairman of KADEM.

Erdogan has repeatedly annoyed feminists and women’s activists with his comments on sex and family planning, once describing birth control as “treason”.

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