Turkey's women's festival may be a drop in the ocean of the poisoned patriarchy that pollutes the world, but its part of a current that is growing in power, pace and spread.
Nick Holdsworth
Journalist, writer, author, filmmaker and film and TV industry expert – Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
Published date: April 1, 2018

It is a chilly, rain-spattered early evening in Istanbul and the most famous shopping street of the Turkish megalopolis – Istiklal Caddesi – is heaving with humanity.

For a street that never sleeps and is always awash with people, it is busier than usual. The narrow thoroughfare is jam-packed with a massive crowd of women, noisy and exuberant, blowing whistles and beating drums, as they celebrate March 8: International Women’s Day.

Violence against Turkish women

In a country where religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism is on the rise – the rule of right-wing populist President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan entrenched following a failed military coup in 2016 and a subsequent crackdown on liberals in the media, academia and judiciary. The annual display of feminist solidarity that gathers near Taksim Square before it flows down to the 15th century Genoese Galata Tower, is a potent symbol for those that understand the country is at a critical juncture.

According to Bianet – a Turkish website that monitors media reports of male violence –men killed at least 290 women in the country in 2017, with 22 girls and 34 men who were nearby at the time of the incident also left dead. A total of 101 women were raped and 376 girls were sexually abused. At least 417 women were left injured by male violence in 2017.

«Women teeming on Istiklal Caddesi carry placards that include a depiction of an erect penis alongside a statement in English: “Does this give you great rights?”»

“Strong and Beautiful”

The women’s march is one of the few public outlets women with modern, liberal and liberated attitudes today in Turkey. Men are largely not welcome at the annual fixture, though the tens of thousands that gathered this year included scores of men to …


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