Governor’s office bans annual Feminist Night March in Istanbul

Ozan KOSE / AFP

The İstanbul Governor’s Office on Monday announced that no demonstrations or marches will be allowed to mark International Women’s Day in İstanbul’s Taksim neighborhood on March 8.

Thousands of protesters have been marching along İstiklal Street in Taksim on the night of March 8 since 2003 to denounce violence against women in Turkey and to demand equal rights for women. The Feminist Night March has witnessed confrontations between protestors and police in past years as the police wanted to prevent the protestors from holding the march.

The governor’s office said there had been many calls on social media inviting people to demonstrations in Taksim and surrounding neighborhoods. However, all demonstrations and marches, including sit-ins and handing out leaflets, were prohibited.

“We have taken precautions in the city so that demonstrations can take place peacefully and in designated areas,” the governor’s office said.

Moreover, service on metro and funicular lines running to Taksim Square and neighboring districts will be suspended as of Tuesday afternoon.

Women’s rights activists criticized the ban, saying women had marched through Taksim Square for the last 19 years and would continue doing so.

“Our march was banned last year, too, but we managed to gather in large numbers,” said a Twitter account dedicated to the Feminist Night March. “We look forward to meeting everyone in Taksim.”

Women’s rights organizations have for years been trying to raise awareness about the rise in violence against women that has taken place in the last 20 years. Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

In a move that led to a national and international outrage, AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a presidential decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty that requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

survey conducted by Metropoll revealed last year that 52.3 percent of Turks were against the withdrawal from the convention. While more than a majority of participants opposed it, 26.7 percent approved and 10.2 percent had no opinion.

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