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Women in Turkey remain defiant despite HDP arrest operation

WOMEN refused to surrender to misogyny after members of Turkey’s opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) women’s assembly were detained by police in Ankara and Mersin today.

They were held during early-morning raids on their homes but said they “would not submit and would not bend” to attempts to remove women from political life.

Women’s assembly members Derya Bakir, Newroz Kırkaya, Meryem Kiraz, Hanim Rider, Ayse Merva Aytemur, Sevgi Kisin Sazan, Zozan Yeliz Yildirim were among those detained.

At least one member of public-sector trade union confederation Kesk is believed to have been targeted in the raids, along with a supporter of the Democratic Alevi Association.

In a statement, the group demanded the immediate release of those held, warning of “attacks on women in all areas” by the Turkish state as a result of its “misogynistic policies.”

Women are paid 17.8 per cent less than men and have an unemployment rate of 14.2 per cent, rising to more than a quarter of those aged under 25.

Turkey remains one of the world’s most unequal societies, ranking 131st of 144 nations in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Gender Gap Index.

Violence against women is also on the rise, amid a culture of impunity. 

Rapes and murders of women in Turkey increased dramatically last year. At least 329 were killed during the first 10 months of 2018, while 342 rapes were reported during the same period.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that it is impossible to discriminate against women, while claiming that they are not equal to men. 

According to him, women should not be involved in politics but only in the domestic sphere.

The HDP operates a co-chair system to ensure sex equality and representation at all levels of the party. But Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has branded the system an act of terrorism.

According to the AKP, male elected co-chairs are acceptable, but the female co-chairs are appointed by the banned Kurdistan Workers Party.

The HDP insists that the system is a “red line” for the party.

Speaking exclusively to the Morning Star, HDP co-chair for Ankara Zeyno Bayramoglu vowed to defend the party’s co-chair system.

“The attacks on the women’s organisation of the HDP continue,” she said. “These operations are targeting Turkey’s only real opposition party by arresting its members.

“Nine female politicians, including our previous co-chair, are in custody. We will not give up our co-chair system or our struggle for the right to equal representation.”

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