Turkiye, World

Women's Day: Erdogan slams silence on women's suffering

Turkish president to meet EU officials in Belgium to discuss situation of asylum seekers on Turkish-Greek border

Davut Demircan, Erdogan Cagatay Zontur   | 08.03.2020
Women's Day: Erdogan slams silence on women's suffering Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers his remarks during a celebration of heroic women of Turkey as part of International Women’s Day, at Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey on March 08, 2020. ( Murat Kula - Anadolu Agency )


Lambasting silence in the face of hardships, abuse and killing of women across the globe, Turkey's president on Sunday spoke against the "hypocrisy" of the world celebrating International Women's Day.

"It is hypocrisy that the world with its callused conscience celebrates March 8 International Women's Day," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at an event in Istanbul celebrating Turkey's "Hero Women."

Erdogan said that celebrating March 8 women day while ignoring women and children kidnapped by terror groups, referring to the PKK, was beyond hypocrisy.

"Those celebrating Women's Day, have they visited mothers who have been crying for their kidnapped children more than six months? They haven't," said Erdogan.  

'Open your border'

In searing remarks against Greece's recent behavior towards asylum seekers trying to cross from Turkey's northwestern border, he said: "No one is raising their voice against Greece's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. No one is condemning the persecution of women asylum-seekers on the Turkish-Greek border, their being shot at or beaten," said Erdogan.

"Greece, open your border, be free of this burden. Let them [asylum seekers] go to other European countries. There is no other way out of this. If we are raising equal burden sharing, we are looking for partners for this burden sharing," he said.

Erdogan noted most migrants Turkey is hosting were women and children, who he said were the most affected by the Syrian crisis 

"We are saddened to see this, but unfortunately humanity remains silent," said Erdogan, referring to the suffering that women and children faced.

Drawing attention to Greece's treatment of asylum seekers trying to cross the Aegean Sea, he said: "Don't women and children suffer more while on their way to Europe? Don't they struggling against death in the Aegean Sea while Greek soldiers try to sink their boats with skewers?"

Erdogan said he would meet EU officials in Belgium on Monday to discuss the situation of asylum seekers on the Turkish-Greek border.  

Safe return to Syria  

Despite all the women and children dying in Syria, the issue failed to get proper attention, he said, adding that Turkey's aims in the war-torn never included attempting to "invade or annex Syrian territory."

"Our only aim is to establish an environment in which 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey and 1.5 million on Turkey's border from Idlib can turn safely to their homes," said Erdogan.

Underscoring the help Turkey has provided refugees, Erdogan said Turkey has spent $40 billion, while the EU provided Turkey only $3 billion in support.

Erdogan assured that Turkey would accept all solutions in Syria that would safeguard the people of Idlib province, as well as Turkey's borders.

"We wish to ensure Syrian territorial integrity and political unity as soon as possible," said Erdogan.  

Women rights

Emphasizing the rise in female employment in Turkey, Erdogan said the country has reached its highest level of political participation among women in its history.

There are 104 women out of 600 members of parliament, although it's not enough, it is an important share," he said.

"The proportion of women in employment increased by 45% from 2002 to 2019, peaking at 9 million. Thus, women's participation in the labor force increased from 27.9% to 34.9%, and female employment within total employment increased from 25.3% to 28.8%," he added.

"From our constitution to our laws, we have made very serious arrangements in all our legislation to protect women's rights and eliminate discriminatory practices," Erdogan said.

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