Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday blamed what he termed “mechanical equality” in gender roles for the high suicide rates in developed nations. Speaking at a meeting of the women’s branch of his ruling Justice and Development Party, he also stressed the importance of motherhood, terming it a “divine mission,” according to a report by Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkish daily.

“Why is the Gross National Product in most developed countries -- I don’t want to name it but in Scandinavian countries and in many other countries -- at the highest level on one side, but the suicide rate is also at the highest level there. Why?” Davutoglu reportedly said, adding that equality in gender relations was responsible for it. He described the so-called "mechanical equality" as something that is beginning to “destroy the complementary relationship in life.”

“Since our women are fulfilling the divine mission of keeping humanity alive, they have the right to rest before and after becoming a mother and spare time for their children,” he reportedly said, echoing similar sentiments expressed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in November.

Last month, Erdogan had said that giving equal positions to men and women in society was “against nature,” and that motherhood should be a woman’s highest priority.

In his speech, Davutoglu also came down harshly upon people who used violence against women. “Whoever uses violence against women, he actually displays his own weakness and dishonor,” he reportedly said. 

Turkey, which remains a deeply patriarchal society and is considered one of the most unsafe countries for women, was ranked a lowly 120 in a list of 136 nations in the World Economic Forum's 2013 Global Gender Gap Report.