Women in Turkey stage marches and rallies around the country in spite of government obstructions to demand equality and an end to violence while also commemorating fallen comrades
Women around Turkey overcame attempts by the Turkish government to restrict celebrations of 8 March International Working Women’s Day to mark the day with events in Istanbul and around the country.
Officials had invoked the threat of possible terrorism in a bid to prevent yearly celebrations of the day with a march on İstiklal Avenue, but women proceeded to march from the French Cultural Center to Tünel under the rubric of “Protecting our lives against the violence of the masculine state, against war and against enmity toward women” as part of the 14th Feminist Night March.
During the march, women shouted the slogans “Long live our feminist struggle,” “Tayyip, run away, women are coming” and “The one who doesn’t jump is Tayyip” in reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Issuing a press statement in both Turkish and Kurdish, attendees demanded an end to the violence that has rocked Turkey over the past year.
“We feminists are continuing to resist against the pressure on women’s labor, identity and bodies in our daily and political lives. We are well aware of all of [the government’s] family policies which seek to confine women to the family, cast a shadow on the equality of women and men in the guise of ‘divorce commissions,’ and ensure – instead of preventing male violence – that violence does not occur outside the home but remains far from view,” they said.
The marchers resolved to battle against continuing dominant masculine policies and the harassment, hate and violence of men within the war environment.
Marchers in Ankara also saluted fellow women who were engaging in resistance in Cizre, Sur and Artvin.
Commemorating Ekin Wan, others
“However much you torture us, it’s all for naught; we will not abandon our struggle that has been continuing for centuries. May your police state shake as we carry all our lost women on our shoulders. In our pots, we will boil your masculinity as we also burst it with our purple needles,” they said in a statement, while also noting that the naked body of Ekin War (Kevser Eltürk), a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrilla who was killed by Turkish government forces in Varto last year before her naked body was exhibited in public, “would destroy the state.”
Women also took to the streets around Turkey, marching in Antalya, Artvin, Kocaeli, Samsun, Kemalpaşa, Edirne, Siirt, Trabzon, Tarsus, Adana and other cities.
In Çorum, women marchers were forced to fight off an attack by ultranationalists during their march.
In Diyarbakır, marchers paid tribute to a number of women who were killed during the Turkish government’s recent siege in the southeastern districts of Cizre and Silopi, including Sêvê Demir, Pakize Nayır and Fatma Uyar.
Earlier in the day, women members of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions, (DİSK) met in Ankara, voicing demands for 8 March to be made a holiday, the establishment of daycares, the enacting of legal regulations to facilitate more women’s employment, a return to negotiations on the Kurdish issue, more judicial attempts to put a stop to violence against women and the replacement of the Family and Social Policies Ministry with a Women’s Ministry, among others.
“We live in a country in which the state’s primary target is women. What we have experienced is neither a coincidence nor something natural,” said DİSK General-Secretary Arzu Çerkezoğlu. “Wherever there is resistance or a barricade, women are there, right at the front. Women mean life and freedom. That’s why we will fight until the [Justice and Development Party] AKP falls from power. We know that women’s liberation means the liberation of humanity.”
‘Women’s primary task motherhood’: Erdoğan
Earlier, Erdoğan had repeated his conviction that women’s primary role in society was to engage in motherhood. “In my opinion, the mindset which forced life into the confines of ‘economic freedom’ has inflicted the heaviest damage on women. But what work does a mother do that can be converted into money?” Erdoğan said during an 8 March event held by the pro-government union Türk-İş.
“At the moment, the West … has panicked. You know why? Their population is ageing, that’s why. Unfortunately, due to these campaigns, we are now seeing this ageing in our population because our population growth rate is either two or under two. We are floundering here. We need to raise the population. Here, the number-one actor is mothers; it is you,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan has previously described abortion as murder and said birth control was a foreign plot to drive the Turkish race to extinction.
Sendika.Org, JINHA, HDN