Turkish police fire rubber bullets as thousands protest to demand an end to violence against women

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Turkish police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of women protesting male violence in Istanbul.

Protesters gathered in the capital to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Some held signs saying “We are not silent, we are not afraid” and “We will fight until we get what we want”, while other banners urged the government to resign.

Protesters demanded that the country return to a historic international treaty, signed in the same city, designed to protect women.

The historic Istanbul Convention entered into force in 2014 and paved the way for a European-wide legal framework to combat, prevent and prosecute violence against women.

Police fired tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the protest.(PA: Kemal Aslan)

Some officials in Turkey’s ruling Islam-oriented party have called for a review of the deal, arguing that it is incompatible with Turkey’s conservative values.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled Turkey out of the convention with a surprise decree overnight in March, sparking condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries.

A legal appeal to prevent the move was rejected and Turkey’s withdrawal was formalized in July.

“We will not accept this”

Thousands of women march and wave placards in the street during a demonstration.
Women marched to lobby for Turkey’s return to a landmark treaty that aims to protect women from violence.(PA: Kemal Aslan)

Riot police, who had erected barricades at the end of a street to prevent the march from continuing, fired tear gas when a group of protesters attempted to break through the barriers.

At least one protester was injured, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

“I don’t feel safe going out at all times of the day, whether it’s day or night.

“Likewise, I don’t think any woman feels safe either.”

Protesters tear down a police security fence during a protest.
Protesters tear down a police security barrier along Istiklal Street in Istanbul.(PA: Kemal Aslan)

Another protester, Serhat Alan, said women were “publicly murdered”.

“If a man can pull a knife freely in the subway yesterday, if the perpetrators can comfortably walk among us, that is not correct,” she said.

Similar protests took place in Ankara and other cities.

After withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, the government announced its action plan to combat violence against women, including objectives such as the review of court procedures, improvement of protection and data collection on violence.

A woman shouts slogans atop a police security barrier.
Riot police erected barricades at the end of the street to prevent the march from taking place.(PA: Kemal Aslan)

Human rights groups say violence against women is on the rise in Turkey.

Advocacy group We Will Stop Femicide said 353 women have been murdered in Turkey so far this year, and 409 last year.

In October, 18 women were killed by men and 19 others were found dead under suspicious circumstances, the group said.

ABC / son

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