Turkish police arrest dozens at Women’s Day rally
Istanbul, Mar 8 (EFE).- Turkish riot police arrested dozens of people Tuesday in Istanbul to break up a rally for International Women’s Day, media outlets reported.
As in previous years, authorities prohibited events in Taksim Square, the vast expanse in the heart of the city that had traditionally been the scene of popular mobilizations.
Despite a large police presence and the erection of barricades around the square, thousands of women responded to the call to gather in Taksim.
Cops used tear gas and pepper spray against activists who tried to break through the police cordon and enter the square.
At least 56 protesters were arrested, according to KRT television.
The Istanbul municipal government announced Monday that no International Women’s Day activities would be permitted in Taksim Square.
One of the chief demands of feminists in Turkey is action to prevent violence against woman.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged Tuesday to stiffen penalties for gender violence, to treat certain forms of sexual harassment as criminal offenses, and to provide victims with attorneys at public expense.
Between 300 and 400 Turkish women a year, on average, are slain by partners, ex-partners, disappointed suitors or even by their own male relatives in so-called honor killings.
Erdogan’s promise to do more to address the problem comes a year after he withdraw Turkey, a nation of 83 million, from a treaty on preventing and combating violence against women known as the Istanbul Convention.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence – the pact’s official name – was opened for signature in May 2011 at the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul.
As Turkey’s prime minister, Erdogan signed the document and persuaded parliament to ratify it in 2012.
Last year, however, he repudiated the convention, asserting that it been “hijacked by a group trying to normalize homosexuality,” though the text makes no mention of alternative sexualities. EFE