The pro-Kurdish Green Left Party MP Sevda Karaca expressed her strong opposition to the presence of individuals involved in polygamy in the Turkish parliament while addressing the media during her registry with the Turkish parliament on Thursday.
Karaca’s remarks were directed at Ali Yüksel from the Yeniden Refah Party (YRP), who is currently serving as an MP for Konya province in central Turkey. Recent revelations have surfaced indicating that Yüksel has three wives, a fact that has drawn considerable criticism from women’s organisations and activists advocating for gender equality.
Karaca firmly asserted that polygamy is not only a criminal offence within the confines of the parliament but also a crime across the entire country. She highlighted the significant strides made by women in securing their civil rights and emphasised the importance of upholding equality between men and women in the family unit. Karaca vehemently opposed allowing individuals who commit such offences to hold positions of power within the parliament.
“The fact that someone engaged in polygamy can serve as an MP or even a headman in this country is simply unacceptable. Legal action must be taken, and no immunity can justify such a situation. It not only violates the Civil Code but also undermines the equal citizenship rights of women,” Karaca stated.
Women’s organisations echoed Karaca’s concerns and condemned Yüksel’s presence in the parliament. Canan Güllü, President of the Federation of Women’s Associations of Turkey, characterised Yüksel’s role in the Turkish parliament as a “mistake, defect, crime, and violation against women.” Güllü also highlighted the violation of the Constitution, noting the absence of an official marriage requirement for religious ceremonies since 2016.
Further criticisms were voiced by Birsen Baş Topaloğlu, Head of the Women’s Rights Centre of the Istanbul Bar Association, who expressed worry about the rise of MPs with views opposing secularism and advocating polygamy.
Feminist lawyer Hülya Gülbahar further condemned the parliament, claiming it had become the most misogynistic in history due to the presence of parties such as YRP and Sunni extremist HÜDA-PAR. Gülbahar argued that the issue of male polygamy is directly linked to child abuse, emphasising the urgent need for change.
In response to the allegations, Ali Yüksel refuted the claims of polygamy, asserting that the details surrounding his private life were being distorted. He clarified that his first wife passed away in 2005, and he divorced his second wife in 2018.