Turkish PM Under Fire For Urging Women To Have More Children

Controversy erupted last weekend when PM Tayyip Erdogan told women to give birth to at least three children, at a gathering to mark Women’s Day. The opposition and especially the women’s organizations strongly criticized the PM for his remarks which they said jeopardize Turkey’s membership in EU, which already is weary of Turkey’s large [71 million] and poorer population.

PM Erdogan’s Islamist rhetoric that children are blessing of Allah, that Allah gives every child his bread, and his rejection of birth control angered many Turks. Turkan Saylan, the chairwoman of an NGO that sponsors education for young girls said that the population figures are already catastrophic and added that presently rural area schools have 60-70 students per class and that about one million girls are not sent to school. Turkey’s working age [age 15-64] group was 66.5 percent in 2007, and 26.4 percent was younger than 15.

The head of the Foundation for Family Planning Yasar Yaser also criticized Erdogan for his remarks and said that rather than calling on women to have more children, he should take care of mothers and children who die of preventable reasons.

Source: Hurriyet, Turkey, March 13, 2008

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