Crowds gather to mark Istanbul Feminist Night March

In Istanbul, the Feminist Night March was held in Beyoğlu district on March 8 evening for the International Women's Day like every year. Here is what happened hour by hour.

Duvar English

In Istanbul, the Feminist Night March was held in Beyoğlu district on March 8 evening for the International Women's Day like every year.

Here is what happened hour by hour:

9.30 p.m.: Turkish police have used pepper spray on women who wanted to go to the Taksim Square after the press statement.

9.20 p.m.: The 21st Feminist Night March has ended after the press statement was read, highlighting the government's rising authoritarianism and its inability to manage the post-earthquake period.

8.00 p.m.: During the demonstration, Turkish women called on the government to resign and chanted the slogans of "Tayyip run away, women are coming," "Jin, jiyan, azadi" ("Women, life, freedom" in Kurdish), "Long live women solidarity," and "Government resign!".

7.40 p.m.: Protestors hung up a rainbow flag in the parking lot on the street where the demonstration took place. The government has long criminalized the flag, which is symbolic for the LGBTI+ movement.

7.30 p.m.: Feminist Night March has started on Cihangir Avenue, as many women try to get to the protest area under heavy police blockade.

6.30 p.m.: Protestors began to meet in Beyoğlu district despite the ban and heavy police blockade.

3 p.m.: The organization committee of the Feminist Night March released an announcement stating that they will gather for the march despite the Beyoğlu District Governor’s Office's ban. The committee stated that “We are in rage, we are in mourning, we are here, we do not leave! We are in feminist revolt against patriarchal capitalist destruction!”

Around 2.45 p.m.: Beyoğlu District Governor’s Office has banned the Feminist Night March on the grounds that it might “trigger social sensitivities” and “terrorist groups can participate in the protests.” The office's decision reads as follows:

“The meeting may arouse outrage in different sections of the society due to social sensitivities, and verbal, physical, and provocative attacks may occur between the groups/individuals who want to organize the meeting and other groups. Social peace and tranquility may be disrupted, and groups sympathetic to terrorist organizations may participate in the demonstration, which may endanger public order and national security. Due to the high potential of the region in terms of culture, tourism, and trade, it is considered that the use of people's freedom of travel and work may be seriously jeopardized.”

March 8, 7.20 a.m.: Metro İstanbul announced that some metro stations near Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue will be closed down after 2 p.m. local time, in line with the decision of Istanbul Governor's Office.

March 7: Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, police barriers have been brought to Taksim Square and the side streets leading to Istiklal Avenue.

Police barriers in Taksim Square

Turkey has made moves in recent years to lessen protections for women. In July 2021, the country formally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), a move that advocacy groups say was a major setback for women in the country. Turkey was the first country to sign the Convention back in 2011.

Some 334 women were murdered by men in 2022, while 245 women were found dead under suspicious circumstances over the same period, according to the We Will Stop Femicides Platform.