Hundreds of women filled the square in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul ahead of International Women’s Day, carrying purple banners, the hallmark of a movement centred on women’s social and economic issues.
One woman was also briefly detained by the police during the rally which was held despite a ban on it by the governor for ‘security reasons.’ Skirmishes also broke out during demonstrations in the capital Ankara, where dozens of women took to the streets.
Turkey ranks 77 among 138 countries on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) index of gender equality and the women were seeking to draw attention to issues that affect them. The government frequently faces criticism for its handling of women’s issues, including the failure to stem high rates of violence and low female participation in the workforce.
The UN believes domestic violence is 10 times more likely in Turkey, which aspires to join the EU, than in other European countries. “We have always said that we would never leave the streets for the March 8 demonstration, and we never will.
Neither the police nor the government can stop us,” protester Guris Ozen told reporters before the crackdown. Turkey has sharply limited the right to peaceful assembly in recent years, giving police wider powers to detain protesters and the courts more power to prosecute them.