Turkish women call on gov’t to resign ahead of International Women's Day

Turkish women gathered in Istanbul ahead of International Women’s Day and called on the government to resign over the failure to prevent femicides and violence against women.

Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

As per the call of women assemblies, Turkish women on March 5 gathered in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district ahead of International Women’s Day and protested femicides, suspicious deaths and violence against women.

The women held a minute of silence for those who died in the Feb. 6 earthquakes in front of the Süreyya Opera House.

The We Will Stop Femicides Platform General Secretary Fidan Ataselim said “Just yesterday a woman was killed by the man she wanted to divorce. This is the result of withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention. It is the politics of death. We will show everyone how important democracy is. We will send this government. It is enough.”

“It is possible to prevent the destructiveness of the earthquake. When our people tried to make their voices heard in the earthquake, (the government) restricted the internet. We will build cities that we will not burn in, that we will not die in,” Ataselim added.

There were a large number of police vehicles and officers near the protest area in Kadıköy.

After Ataselim’s speech, the women went to the protest area and chanted the slogans of "Don't be silent, shout no to violence against women", "Femicide is political", "Jin jiyan azadi" (Women, life, freedom” in Kurdish).

In the protest area next to the Kadıköy’s coastline, the women called on the government to resign over failure to prevent femicides and violence against women. The police announced that slogans calling the government to resign were banned.

A press statement was read in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic languages. 

The statement said “Massacres of women are increasing day by day, thousands of women condemned to live below the poverty and hunger line are left to starvation due to increasing bill prices and living expenses, violence against LGBTI+s is fueled by the state, women's unemployment is increasing, war policies and militarism are on the rise, racist attacks against migrant women increased.”

“The state, which did not take vital measures in the first days of the earthquake, is trying to prevent the solidarity that we women have established with the women living in the earthquake area,” it added.

The statement reminded that pads, HPV vaccine, tampons and all hygiene products have become inaccessible due to the economic crisis.

“While the war policies of the government do not stop even in the earthquake, they impose a life based on militarism, nationalism and sexism on us. The state is trying to cover up the anger of the people for the loss of the people with the hatred of immigrants and refugees, people are killed by the state by being called looters,” it added.

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.