Duvar English

A deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said that “women had no name” before the AKP came to power, prompting surprise among the opposition.

AKP Group Deputy Chair Özlem Zengin claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan created opportunities for women, adding that the party is trying to make life easier for them.

“Women had no name in this country until the AKP came to power. Women built the AKP and that’s why we, as the women and men in the party and our President, try to make life easier for women with the works that we carry out,” Zengin said in parliament on June 25 in response to criticism from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Violence against women and femicides are Turkey’s grave problems and the situation deteriorates year-by-year.

Women’s rights groups say that the increasing violence against women cases stem from the AKP’s policies of protecting men.

It’s common for men to inflict violence upon women or murder them and receive little punishment.

The opposition and women’s rights groups have been urging the AKP to introduce policies that protect women, but to no avail.

Zengin admitted that there are “problems such as femicides” in Turkey, adding that the party is trying to solve it.

“Women come first in our policies. Are there problems such as murders in Turkey? Yes there are. We are trying to solve that and working on it. The issue of women is what all the parties in parliament can agree on,” she said.

“Are you defending women more than we do? The HDP is the last party to defend women more than us,” Zengin added.

‘Women who reject motherhood are lacking’

Following her remarks, social media users shared statements of high-level AKP officials that targeted women.

One of them is Erdoğan, who previously said that a woman who rejects becoming a mother is “lacking and half.”

“A woman who rejects motherhood is lacking no matter how successful she is in her career,” Erdoğan said in June 2016.

He also said that women and men are not equals.

Another one is former deputy Bülent Arınç, who is now a member of the Presidential High Advisory Board. Arınç in 2015 told HDP deputy Nursel Aydoğan to “shut up as a woman” in parliament.

In 2014, Arınç said that women should not burst into laughter in public.

“Women should be modest and know what’s private. A woman shouldn’t burst into laughter and shouldn’t be attractive in front of everyone,” he said.

No ambulances, refrigerators, ovens

This is not the first time that the AKP claimed that certain elements did not exist before they came to power.

Erdoğan in 2018 said that it was hard to find refrigerators or ovens at houses before their term.

More recently, he said that there were hardly any ambulances in the country before the AKP came to power.