Trans women subjected to police violence in new attack in western Turkey

A group of trans women have been battered by the police in Turkey's western province of İzmir, in a new attack targeting them. 

A protestor holds a banner reading 'Trans rights are human rights' in this file photo.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu / DUVAR

A group of trans women in Turkey's Aegean province of İzmir have been subjected to police violence in a new attack targeting them. The incident happened at Bornova Street in the Alsancak district on May 3 in the evening hours.

Police teams blockaded the street on the grounds of “loud music and noise.” They later entered the trans women's houses and beat them up with sticks and sprayed pepper gas.

Five trans women were battered during the incident, after which they received medical reports documenting their injuries. Lawyers filed a complaint with the police department but they were told that “there was no such operation” against trans women on the said street.

One of the battered trans women recalled the incident to Gazete Duvar, saying: “They [police] tried to detain me while I was in my house. One of them held my hair and hit my head on the iron bar. And they pushed my friend down the stairs.”

“We have not shown any resistance to the police. They wanted to detain us all of a sudden, citing loud music as an excuse. We were innocent. And also our neighbors showed their support for us, but they [police] even insulted our neighbors who recorded us on camera,” she said.

She said that she and her friends will seek for their rights at the judiciary.

Similar incidents of violence and threats had occurred on the same street before. The women were told by night watchmen (“bekçi” in Turkish) “not to stand at the street” just a week before. Afterwards, the women were threatened, which led them to file a criminal complaint.

In January, again on the same street, four assailants with spiked clubs had tried to extort money from the women. When the women at the time tried to seek help from police officers, they were denied help, with one of the officers saying: “It is not my job to protect you.”

(English version by Didem Atakan)