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Turkish police teargas women to break up IWD march

Turkish police teargas women to break up IWD march

Women carrying out the International Women’s Day (IWD) march were teargassed by riot police in Turkey. The few hundred peaceful women marchers with banners and flags dispersed after they were stopped from reaching Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s main pedestrian avenue.

This is the second time consecutively that Turkey has prevented women from celebrating the IWD. Last year too, the police had used pepper spray on the women protesters. The government told the organizers that they cannot gather at the historic Taksim Square, which has now become globally famous as a convergence point for protests.

To prevent women from reaching the main square and nearby areas, metro stations were shut down and roads barricaded. The government had banned IWD celebrations and issued a statement that assembly and demonstrations were prohibited in the main square. Despite the ban, hundreds of women gathered to mark the event.

Women in Turkey have been protesting the rise in domestic violence over the last decade. They have been asking for legal reforms after the brutal cafe stabbing of a 38-year-old woman in front of her daughter. Activists say even though the laws are there, the government overlooks these and denies justice to women as women are considered second-class citizens. Their efforts and struggle for gender equality are not being heeded by a government that is conservative and looks down upon women.

The country has one of the world’s worst records of violence and murders against women. Often authorities hand over reduced sentences to men which makes women vulnerable and unsafe. People have criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for not doing enough to stem the tide of violence against women.

Elsewhere in the city, the government allowed NGOs to celebrate the women’s day but ensured that the main areas of Istanbul were banned for gatherings..