Turkish police detained 34 women who tried to mark the 18th Feminist Night March in Istanbul’s central district of Taksim on Sunday evening, an independent news agency Dokuzsekiz reported.
Thousands of women started gathering in the side streets in an attempt to celebrate International Women’s Day in Taksim’s Istiklal Avenue, the regular venue for the event for the past 16 years.
However, as happened last year, police were deployed to Taksim on Friday afternoon to guard all side streets leading to the square in a bid to enforce an order issued by the Istanbul Governor’s Office barring the women’s march.
A group of marchers who were intercepted by a police barrier on Sıraselviler Street started pushing the police barricades. Women chanted slogans demanding the police to open the roads, saying “Open, open, open the barricades. We don’t hush, we don’t fear, we don’t obey.”
Following warnings, police used violence in a bid to disperse the gathered crowd.
Officers dragged some of the women using their shields while teargas was used and 34 women detained.
As women attempted to push the police barricade to enter İstiklal Avenue, police started pushing back women down on Sıraselviler Avenue, detaining at least 4.
— dokuz8NEWS (@dokuz8news) March 8, 2020
Following police questioning, the detained women were reportedly released.
Ankara often tries to prevent protests in the country following the state of emergency declaration in the wake of an attempted coup in 2016. Despite the lifting of the state of emergency, restrictions on mass gatherings are still in force.
Women gather every year on the Taksim Square, a historic rallying point for protests in Istanbul, to demand more rights and less violence against women.
Under Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government since 2002, violence against women has seen a dramatic increase, with over 15,557 women having been murdered in the country, a report conducted on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
According to the report by lawmaker Sezgin Tanrikulu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), at least 474 women were murdered by men in 2019 and another 49 in January and February this year.
The country also has a gender pay disparity of 7.7 percent in favor of men, in terms of employment. The figure was released by the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) last week, ahead of Women’s Day.
Ironically, Turkish women were happier than men in 2019, according to another study by the TurkStat. Despite the negative indicators of violence, gender equality, and employment, the percentage of happy women was 57%, while it was 47.6% for men, the survey said.