Controversial Turkish Marriage Guide Allows Wife-Beating

A religious officer canes an Acehnese youth onstage as punishment for dating outside of marriage, which is against sharia law, outside a mosque in Banda Aceh on August 1, 2016. The strictly Muslim province, Aceh has become increasingly conservative in recent years and is the only one in Indonesia implementing …

A new, sharia-compliant Turkish marriage guide allows husbands to strike their disobedient wives, counsels women not to talk during sex and suggests that polygamy creates healthy “competition” in a marriage.

The Turkish city of Kütahya is handing out free copies of a 394-page book titled “Marriage and Family Life” to all newlyweds. The guide to successful, happy marriages includes such instructions as when a husband may legitimately strike his wife. “A woman who does not dress for her husband, who is not obedient to her husband being the head of the household, can be beaten,” it reads.

The guide informs men that beating their wives reminds them who rules the house and is good for them. It tells wives to serve their husbands coffee in a sexy outfit after a beating in order to end the conflict with make-up sex.

The book has come under fire for this and other odd advice to newlyweds, such as counseling wives not to speak during intercourse, since a child born as a result will probably stutter and could even be mute. Similarly, if the wife is not passionate during sex, then their child will be stupid, the book says.

Polygamy, on the other hand, is recommended as a means to keep a “wayward” woman in check, since it “creates competition” among wives, bringing out the best in them. The practice of polygamy is presently illegal in Turkey, but is reportedly on the rise.

Various Turkish politicians have come out against the book for its purported misogyny and outdated rules. The leader of Kütahya’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), Zeliha Aksaz Sahbaz, said that the guide “depicts woman as second-class citizens and sexual slaves.”

The party’s deputy chief, Fatma Kaplan Hürriyet, called the book misogynistic and said it helped legitimize violence against women.

“This booklet, which was distributed by the municipality for young married couples, is immoral. It says ballet and theatre are centers for demons, that women should not exercise in sport centers and parks, encourages violence against women by saying that if you beat a woman, she will love and want you much more, and that children aged between 10 and 12 can be married to each other,” Hürriyet said.

The mayor of Kütahya, Kamil Saracoglu, however, a member of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), defended the text, noting that the advice contained in it was based on Islamic principles. The mayor also said that he was not aware of any complaints against the book.

The conservative AKP was founded by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2001 as a reaction to Turkey’s move toward a more secular state, and has pushed for stricter adherence to Islamic law.

The author of the controversial marriage manual is Hasan Caliskan, a former employee of Turkey’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, known as “Diyanet.”

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