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WOMEN’S rights activists in Turkey vowed to continue their resistance after a march on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was brutally attacked by police in Istanbul.
Thousands took part in the demonstration in Turkey’s largest city, which was part of the global day of action with similar events held in towns and cities across the country.
They were demanding equality in Turkey, where organisers said women face violence, inequality, poverty and job insecurity.
However, lines of police blocked the route to Taksim Square, where demonstrations and gatherings are banned.
As they stood their ground chanting: “We are not afraid, we do not obey,” police moved in attacking the demonstration with batons and firing pepper spray, injuring a number of protesters.
Rape and murder of women has increased dramatically, with at least 329 women killed in Turkey during the first 10 months of 2018 while 342 rapes were reported in the same period.
Women are paid 17.8 per cent lower than men, with an unemployment rate of 14.2 per cent, rising to more than a quarter of women aged under 25.
Despite the shocking figures, Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that it is impossible to discriminate against women, branding sexual equality “against nature.”
The attack marked an escalation by the authoritarian Turkish state, with the march, which takes place annually, being blocked for the first time.
But organisers remained defiant and said in a statement: “We did not stop and obey the people who wanted to cut down our voices instead of preventing the killing of women.”
“We know the value of our rights, our lives, because there is a women’s movement, women’s struggle, women’s solidarity,” it concluded.
Ekmek ve Gul (Bread and Roses) writer Fulya Alikoc told the Star: “It was an open message from the government — we are not going to allow you to do anything on the streets.”
She said it was women who were bearing the impact of the economic crisis in Turkey
“President Erdogan wants to solve the crisis and its effects, within the family,” she said. “So he and his government try to make women’s right to divorce harder.
“This creates even more violent family life for women who have been first to face the rising prices as part of their patriarchal role to ensure feeding family members.”
Turkey remains one of the world’s most unequal societies, ranking 131st of 144 nations in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Gender Gap Index.
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