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Boston Herald Editorial: Turkey’s ‘woman’ problem

Boston Herald editorial, Friday November 28 – 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has really gone and done it this time!

He may try to substitute that yogurt drink for hardier adult beverages and no one takes that particularly seriously. Or he claims Islamic explorers discovered America long before Columbus. Whatever!

The often-controversial Erdogan — once pro-Western, now heading down a more Islamist path — this week took on a new enemy.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” Erdogan said. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

He added: “Motherhood is the highest position … You cannot explain this to feminists. They don’t accept motherhood. They have no such concern.”

It’s not just that the head of this NATO ally country has offended about half the population — his own and others around the world — it’s that he may well have violated his own nation’s constitution. That’s what women’s rights advocate and lawyer Hulya Gulbahar told the Associated Press. Turkey’s constitution and its body of laws are quite specific in guaranteeing gender equality.

“Such comments aim to make women’s presence in public life — from politics to arts, from science to sports — debatable,” Gulbahar said.

The president’s rantings notwithstanding, women have played an important role in their nation and are deeply involved in its banking industry, its legal community (including an often-embattled judiciary) and in the arts. We share Gulbahar’s concerns about the long-term impact of such comments and Erdogan’s motives.

And in the short term, Erdogan is surely managing to make himself an international laughingstock.