Turkish women demanding end to violence attacked by security forces

The march was taken out to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and demand that the Erdogan government rejoin the Istanbul convention from which it withdrew in July

November 26, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Turkish women's march
(Photo: Evrim Kepenek/bianet)

A march on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Thursday, November 25, in Istanbul, Turkey, was attacked by the security forces. Several protesters were injured in the police action.

While thousands of women were on the streets of Istanbul on Thursday evening, the police erected barricades preventing them from marching further. After some women tried to climb the barricade, the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. The protesters raised slogans demanding an end to all forms of violence against women in the country. They also called on the government to rejoin the Istanbul convention, while some demanded that president Recep Tayyib Erdogan step down. 

Thursday’s protest was called by the November 25 Women’s Platform, an umbrella organization of left and progressive groups in the country. It was part of a nationwide call for a week of demonstrations demanding that Turkey rejoin the Istanbul Convention. 

Turkey withdrew from the treaty early this year with leaders in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) claiming that the convention promotes homosexuality. Women’s groups in the country have been campaigning against the government’s move and demanding stricter laws to deal with violence against women. According to women’s groups, the protests will continue for the next couple of days across Turkey.  

The Communist Party of Turkey (TKP)-led Women Solidarity Committee (KDK) also participated in the protests calling for change in the social and political order with the slogan: “women don’t fit in the present order”.

Turkey was one of the first countries to sign the Istanbul Convention in 2011. So far, the convention has been signed by more than 52 countries. It came into force in 2014 and demands that signatories enact national laws to protect women from all kinds of violence and discrimination.

Protesters near Taksim square in Istanbul were quoted in the local media saying that their march is against, “violence of the male state, against patriarchy, against poverty, unemployment, war, unlawfulness, impunity and discrimination, against massacre of women and trans murders that happen every day.” 

According to the platform We will Stop Femicide, which campaigns to eliminate violence against women and was a prominent part of Thursday’s protest, at least 285 women have lost their lives this year due to violence against them. This is a significant jump from last year when the total figure was 268. According to some reports, the actual numbers are even higher.