Turkish women fight for the right to choose

The following is a statement published by UID-DER Women’s Committee on the Erdogan government’s attack on abortion rights.

Prime Minister Erdogan stated first in a TV interview and afterwards in several meetings of his party that abortion is murder and it must be banned. The Ministry of Health was immediately ordered to prepare a draft bill to ban abortion.

There is no doubt that a ban on abortion or any kind of new law bringing more restrictions on abortion than the current situation will hit first and foremost the working-class women. Because it is not a problem for the ruling class women to access healthy birth control methods and stop unwanted pregnancies in anywhere abroad. Even when the women of that class give birth to an unwanted child, raising of that child will not create a burden for the family.

But the above mentioned situations pose great problems for the working-class women and the poor toiling women in general. In contrast to the government’s claims that they have done brilliant reforms in the health system, they closed those Woman Health and Family Planning Centres. In this way they put a lot of difficulties on working-class women to reach family planning services easily and free of charge

Erdogan claimed that abortion is murder. But what can be called murder is to ban abortion in a society where childcare is completely put on the backs of women. Because toiling women who are under double oppression of patriarchal capitalist system will have to resort to abortion under unhealthy conditions when they do not want to give birth to children they think they would not be able to take care of. Banning abortion has never given rise to increased population and birth rates anywhere in the world. What happened was an increased number of maternal mortalities because of haemorrhage, infection, etc., in illegal and unhealthy abortion practices carried out in shanty places. Today 60 thousand women per year across the world die of these reasons.

Erdogan who preaches women to have at least 3 children on the grounds that “our nation’s future is under great danger”, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, is the head of the government that fixes a minimum wage on the level of one sixth of necessary wage that is needed to raise those 3 children healthily.

This government is gradually emasculating the right to free education of children through new legal arrangements and daily practices. In this country run by Prime Minister Erdogan thousands of children die every year of diseases and lack of proper care before they are 4 years of age. Many child workers die in factories and fields where they work. The AKP government must make sure that those children who have already been born live on and become healthy, educated adults instead of trying to ban abortion and seeking more children.

Today most of the workplaces do not provide nursery. The AKP government abolished the law that enforces companies of certain size to open nursery service in the workplaces. Although now the bosses can make a contract with a private nursery instead of opening a nursery within the workplace, this, in reality, is abandonment of the right to nursery in workplaces. By this change working women are facing more difficulties. And the result is either women giving up having children or having to leave work.

Pregnant women face the risk of being sacked. At the start of employment women workers are forced to sign contracts in which they promise they would not get pregnant. Under these conditions a pregnant woman worker puts her health in danger to have a miscarrige or even if she wants to have the child she will have to have an abortion. But the AKP and Erdogan do not accuse these bosses for being murderers!

Under severe working conditions in factories hundreds of women per year have miscarriages. The bosses do not show any respect for pregnant workers and do not change their working conditions for better. Even in some workplaces women are insulted for their pregnancy without the consent of the company.

While he argues that abortion is murder Prime Minister describes work accidents that claim at least 100 workers’ life per year as fate. In fact workers die because of the fact that necessary precautions for worker’s health and safety are not taken. But Prime Minister calls these “fate”.

Tens of women per year fall victim to “honour” killings. They are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or family members. This is the same country run by the same Prime Minister where those women who demand protection face bureaucratic foot dragging and where women killings are turned a blind eye. Prime Minister does not even lift a finger to solve the problem of women killings which have risen 1400 times in last ten years. Erdogan who claims that there are no unsolved killings in his rule does not hesitate to ignore Uludere massacre and others and lie in the face of people.

Kurdish and Turkish youth keep dying because of the oppressive policies against Kurdish people. Those who have been killed in this dispute are counted by tens of thousands. There are children who have been killed by bullets number of which are more than their ages just because they are Kurds.

Who is committing murder? Prime Minister has to answer this question first before accusing those women who defend abortion right and explain those killings the rulers and he, as one of their representatives, are responsible for.

Abortion is a right that has been won by struggle. To ban abortion is murder.

Working women’s demands are clear:

  • All discriminatory practices against women must be stopped immediately!
  • In order to stop viole nce against women, a struggle has to be waged against the mindset that regards women as inferior in family, education, social life and so on.
  • The mindset that makes women the only responsible for childcare has to be challenged and all necessary measures have to be taken to socialise childcare.
  • There has to be health centres that offer healthy, free-of-charge and easily accessible birth control services for both women and men.
  • Equal pay for equal work! Ban sacking of pregnant women!
  • Nursery for every workplace!
  • A lengthened maternity leave!

A woman’s body belongs to herself alone. Interference of men, the state and exploiters must immediately be stopped!
17 June 2012

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About esthertownsend

Socialist feminist

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