Turkish President: 'Equality between men and women is against nature'

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a rights summit that women were more 'delicate'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said equality between men and women is “against nature” at a summit in Istanbul.

He sparked outrage with the speech made at a convention organised by women’s groups campaigning to eliminate gender discrimination in all its forms.

“You cannot make women and men equal; this is against nature,” Mr Erdoğan told the meeting full of women including his own daughter, Today’s Zaman reported.

“You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man.

“You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did…this is against her delicate nature.”

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Women hold placards in Istanbul, as they protest against Erdogan’s plan for a tough abortion law

The President reportedly claimed that Islam dictated motherhood to be the prime role of women, reciting a hadith saying that “heaven lies at your mother’s feet”.

Telling delegates he used to kiss his own mother’s feet, Mr Erdogan added: “My mother would be shy, but I used to say, ‘Mother, don't pull your feet away, because the scent of heaven is there.' Sometimes, she would cry.”

Mr Erdogan blamed opposition to his ideas and policies on feminists who “don't accept the concept of motherhood.”

Instead of equality, he recommended what he called “equivalency”, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“Equality is turning the victim into an oppressor by force or vice versa,” the President said. “What women need is to be able to be equivalent, rather than equal.”

The Women and Justice Summit, hosted by the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), will see debates on women in politics, wage gaps, job distribution, human trafficking, domestic violence and exploitation.

Speakers at the two-day event were due to include the UN’s regional director for women, global rights activists, academics, journalists and businesswomen.

One participant who attempted to ask a question during a speech by Turkey's family and social policies minister, Ayşenur Islam, was allegedly taken out of the hall by security guards, who covered her mouth.

Mr Erdogan has been criticised for his recent statements declaring that every Turkish women should have three children and proposing to limit abortion rights, access to the morning-after pill and caesarean sections.

His socially conservative AKP party has been accused of attempting to erode Turkey’s secular principles in favour of Islamism and limiting civil liberties, as well as practicing media censorship and blocking Twitter.

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