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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Turkey - Row over 'Medieval' marriage guidance book distributed by municipality for Turkish newly-weds


Turkey - Row over 'Medieval' marriage guidance book distributed by municipality for Turkish newly-weds . (TF)

In the town of Kütahya, west of Turkey, the bride and groom used to receive a controversial gift from the municipality: a marriage guide that provides advice from another age.

Spotted by the BBC last December, this book of 394 pages, entitled Marriage and Family Life boasts among young husband virtues of polygamy, justifies the subjugation of women to the will of their husbands and domestic violence .

Kutahya council in western Turkey issues the hefty 394-page "Marriage and Family Life" free of charge, but has run into a barrage of complaints. The leader of the main opposition CHP Republican People's Party in Kutahya, Zeliha Aksaz Sahbaz, told Turkey's NTV television channel that the book "depicts woman as second-class citizens and defines them as sexual slaves".

She and other critics point to such advice as a "wife must stay quiet and apologise if her husband is angry with her", and suggests polygamy as a way of "promoting competition" among women and sparing them the attentions of other men.

Local CHP member of parliament Fatma Kaplan Hurriyet raised the issue in a National Assembly family and social policy debate, telling MPs that the book appears to be a "cut-and-paste copy" of another book called "Marriage and Privacy" issued by Pamukkale city council, which she found in the parliamentary library.

She asked whether the mayors of these cities would face prosecution for distributing material that contravenes Turkish law, not least in advocating the beating of wives who "do not dress up at the request of her husband", NTV reports.

Written by a certain Hasan Çaliskan, a former employee of the Office of Religious Affairs, the guide seems to have been inspired by medieval times. It dispenses including the "right to sexual obedience" of the woman to her husband during the wedding night and advises marriage as young as ten years .

"A woman who does not make herself beautiful to her husband and does not respect her authority can be beaten, it will remind her of the rules in force in the home," she said. "If a woman sees a man more beautiful than her husband, she could fall in love with him, so she must stay at home," says the author of the manual, who argues that professional life "turns women away from duty Sexual relationship with her husband ".

Other advice to follow according to the guide: to avoid going to the theater which is the "den of the demons" but also to remain silent during the sexual relations under penalty of seeing its future child stammer.

"We never had a complaint"

Edited by the city of Kütahya, Marriage and Family Life is also distributed free of charge by the City Council of Pamukkale, a town in the southwest of Turkey. To the dismay of the local opposition, which denounced the retrograde and violent content of the work.

In the parliament, Fatma Kaplan Hurriyet, an elected member of the secular party, took an open position against the book, which "represents women as second-class citizens and defines them as sexual slaves."

She also called for the two mayors who distribute Marriage and Family Life to be prosecuted. The two elected members are members of the conservative AKP, which includes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Faced with the extent of the polemic, the Turkish Minister of Education described the work as "primitive and non-scientific". This does not prevent the Mayor of Kütahya from camping on his positions. "We have given it to the newlyweds since 2014 and we have never had any complaints," he said.

Women's rights more and more threatened

Since the arrival of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as President of Turkey, associations are constantly alarmed by the regression of women's rights in the country. Accused of encouraging domestic violence by its decision openly conservative position on women , Turkish President has repeatedly been singled out for its misogynistic outputs . Thus, in November 2014, he did not hesitate to rely on the reading of the Koran to justify the superiority of men over women. "I know there will be some who will be embarrassed, but for me the woman is above all a mother," he added.

Regularly attacking the feminist movements he represses, he also said on March 8 that "the two sexes could not be treated in the same way because it is against human nature." In August 2014, he also tried to limit the right to abortion.

In November 2016, the Erdogan government had attempted to pass a law to decriminalize sexual assault of a minor if the defendant marries the victim. Faced with the outcry in Turkey and his condemnation by the international community, he had finally suspended the bill.

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