“Men Against the Abortion Ban” marched across Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district on Sunday to express the reasons why they oppose the controversial proposal by government officials to ban abortion.
The group "Men Against the Abortion Ban" held another march in Istanbul on Sunday, following their first demonstration on the evening of June 5. The demonstrators rallied behind a banner that read "Banning abortion is subjecting women to violence" and kicked off their hour-long march from Tünel Squareat 14:00.
"Hands off women, male state," "Banning abortion is inciting to murder," "What is it to you Tayyip, what is it to you?" chanted the demonstrators, while women on the scene also lent their support to the protestors. "Men over here for solidarity" the demonstrators also shouted as they passed before the Galatasaray High School on İstiklal Avenue.
Bystanders mostly received the demonstrators' march with applause and statements of support, although one man shouted "Allahüekber" ("God is great") to the demonstrators. The protesters, in turn, replied back to him: "Abortion is a right, Uludere a massacre," in reference to the botched air strike that killed 34 civilians last year in the southeastern province of Şırnak. "Every abortion is an Uludere," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had later commented, sparking the entire debate on abortion.
About some fifty meters down the street, the demonstrators also had another brief encounter with a small group of "greywolves," members of the youth branch of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP,) who were marching in the opposite direction. The protesters subsequently met the greywolves with another chant: "Hands off our bodies, fascist state."
Beyond these two brief exchanges, most bystanders on the street regarded the demonstration favorably, while both men and women showed interest in the press release that was distributed from both sides of the marching crowd.
"Take responsibility, use contraceptives"
The "Men Against the Abortion Ban" invited their male counterparts to employ contraception, take responsibility and called on them to stop acting as "the men of the masculine state."
A press release then followed at the end of the Istiklal Avenue leading up to Taksim Square.
"We ask: Why do men avoid facing their own responsibilities on this matter? Is it not men instead that [we] first need to speak about before abortion? Why would a woman be forced to resort to abortion?" the demonstrators said in the press release.
Men do not assume responsibility and avoid using contraceptives to enhance their pleasure because they see women's bodies as their property, the press release further stated.
"Banning abortion amounts to giving credit to this callousness by men. The ban on abortion is tantamount to the perpetuation and reinforcement of this mind-set which [affirms the notion that] men can continue irresponsibly scattering their sperms left and right and that only women have to deal with the consequences of this. Is that not exactly what the government wants? Is it not to [get] women to perform a mandatory [term of] motherhood by making and nurturing more children as if performing a mandatory military service?" went the press release.
"None of us are free before women are free," the protesters chanted at the conclusion of the press release. (HK)
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