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Women planning Turkey's first feminist strike

WOMEN from across Turkey will gather for a major two-day conference in Istanbul this weekend intent on turning “the resistance into an organised force.”

The second Women’s Conference in Turkey takes place against a backdrop of diminishing rights in the country under a series of government-led attacks, including plans to introduce a sickening child-rape law.

Under the proposed legislation, paedophiles will be granted amnesty as long as they marry their victims. As many as 4,000 people convicted of sexual offences are set to be pardoned if the Bill is passed by the Turkish parliament as expected.

The conference is organised by Purple Solidarity and supported by many of Turkey’s women’s organisations, trade unions and political parties, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Delegates are making plans to launch the country’s first “feminist strike,” hoping to emulate the scenes in Spain, where more than five million took part in a 2018 action.

Purple Solidarity spokeswoman Gamze Ozkok explained that preparations for the conference have been taking place for more than a year, with attendance expected from women involved in struggle across the world.

“We will discuss how to transform the spontaneous women’s struggle into an organised force,” she said.

“While tens of thousands of women took to the streets against abortion in Poland, women in Sudan took to the streets against the existing dictatorship. We can say the same thing for Europe and other countries.

“International struggle is very important,” Ms Ozkok said. “One of the most important things on our agenda is to organise a feminist strike.”

Turkey remains one of the most unequal countries in the world for women; the country is ranked 130th out of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index 2020.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has presided over increasing discrimination against women, even stating that he believes those who don’t have children are abnormal.

He insists that women should only exist in the domestic sphere. His efforts to remove them from political life has seen the HDP’s co-chair system, which guarantees equality at all levels of the party, branded “terrorism.”

Prompted by a series of brutal murders of women and an upsurge in violent attacks last year, the conference will also discuss self-defence.

Ms Ozkok said: “Women are faced with serious cases of violence at home from their spouse, or outside from the police…

“Self-defence is our most important issue and we will deal with this … at the conference.”

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