16 Mar 2018

Women in Turkey keep the protest alive

During International Women’s Day, thousands of women marched in Istanbul to demand equality and an end to violence against women. Nowadays, a protest of this size is rare in Turkey.

Guest Mavens
Guest Mavens NewsMavens, Europe
Source: Open Democracy
Women in Turkey keep the protest alive - NewsMavens
Turkish model in Ottoman dress. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

-- by Ans Boersma

Women’s activists are among the strongest and most visible opposition in Turkey. In the past year they took the streets to protest against the referendum and violence against women. The most remarkable march was the ‘Don’t mess with my outfit’ movement, where women demanded the right to wear what they want without being harassed.

Their protests are not without risk. In Ankara, the police recently detained 15 people and used tear gas to break up a march by women. Since the attempted coup in 2016, the Turkish government has cracked down the opposition, civil society and minorities. Feminists say that women’s rights are backsliding.

President Erdoğan has drawn the ire of feminist groups for declaring that motherhood is the first priority of women. He encouraged marriage over education and stated that every woman in Turkey should have three children. He also proposed to limit abortion rights, the morning-after pill and caesarean sections.

Violence against women, both in public and private sphere, is on the rise in Turkey. In February alone, 47 women were killed.

In the article below, Bilge Yabanci sums up the situation perfectly:

"The intertwined nature of masculinity, political culture and women’s oppression is nowhere clearer than in undemocratic political systems."

violence, women's issues, Turkey, gender

Details from the story:

  • In ‘new’ Turkey, the state determines the role of women in public and private sphere.
  • “The AKP carefully defines how women should look and behave in public and what roles they should assume in the process of building the new mighty nation.”
  • Femicide, domestic violence and physical violence in Turkey are on the rise.
  • Resistance is still visible in the public space, despite the repressive authoritarian political system.
  • New forms of activism and women’s resistance are growing all over the country. “Women are fighting back in everyday solidarity.”

** Ans Boersma is a Dutch journalist, currently working in Turkey as an economic correspondent. She also writes about migration, women’s movements and civil society.**

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