Thousands of women gathered on Sunday (11 March) in Kadıköy on the Asian side of Istanbul upon the call of the 8 March Women Platform for a Women's Day meeting. They raised their voices for an end of male violence against women, for making their invisible labour visible and for an end to custodies and arrests of women.
The protest march started from the Haydarpaşa Numune Hospital and went all the way to the meeting area in Kadıköy. The women carried banners and chanted slogans in Turkish and Kurdish. The songs "Rebellion" and "Possible/Impossible" written by the popular Turkish band Bandista especially for International Women's Day on 8 March were played.
"Women, come to the street for our liberation"
At the head of the demonstration, the women carried a banner featuring the slogan "For our Bodies, our Labour, our Identity - against the Male Ruling System - Long Live our Organized Struggle". The women chanted slogans such as "Our Labour, our Bodies, our Identities are our Own!", "Raise the voice of invisible labour", "No to Harassment and Rape in Custody", "Shout so that anyone can hear you, stop male violence", "Men go home to do the ironing", Women, come to the street for our liberation", "Don't protect the family but the women", "Don't be silent but shout, trans individuals do exist", "Don't be silent but shout, lesbians do exist", "We want a world without bosses and pimps" or "Men go home to prepare food".
"Stop the witch hunt"
Press releases were read out in Kurdish and Turkish. The women mentioned problems related to various areas of life like labour, male violence against women, the incidents at the Pozantı prison and also the Uludere Massacre or the persecution of Kurdish women.
They called for equal wages for equivalent work and pointed to the struggle for the improvement of working conditions and the reduction of working hours. The women also emphasized their struggle against male violence that was still continuing in a country where hundreds of women were killed by men each year. They touched upon the violence against children at the Pozantı Prison as well as the unsolved murders of the Uludere massacre.
The women voiced their objections against the new law on violence against women and protested rights violations against LBT (lesbian, bisexual and transsexual) women. They criticized control mechanisms regarding the women's body and sexuality. Furthermore, the women highlighted the invisibility and lack of security in women labour. They also stated that the arrests of Kurdish women had been turned into a witch hunt.
Eylem Çağdaş from the Istanbul LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual) Solidarity Association declared, "We came here today because we continue the rebellion of our sisters for the emancipation of women".
"A world without oppression of women and of LGBT individuals"
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Deputy Sebahat Tuncel said in her speech, "We are greeting all the women who created today on your behalf, all Clara Zetkins, Rosa Luxemburgs and Beritans". Tuncel claimed that all women of Turkey were affected by the war policies, Kurdish women as well as Turkish, Laz, Circassian and Armenian women. "The women of Turkey in this place raise their voices for peace together with the Kurdish women", Tuncel proclaimed.
Tuncel mentioned their objections against the new law on violence against women and emphasized that a solution could only be reached by providing social gender equality. "I want a world where women and LGBT individuals are not being oppressed and where the peoples are living together. Regards to all women who resist".
After the speeches, the women read out a letter of diseased prisoner Hediye Aksoy. The meeting was continued with performances of the Feminists music group, Kurdish singer Rojda and the Van Association of Solidarity and Support for Women Artists.
The meeting was attended by representatives and members of the Feminists, the Democratic Movement of Free Women (DÖKH), the Socialist Women Assemblies (SKM), the University Women Collective, the Resisters of Hey Textile and Kampana Leather, the Collective Labour Women Trade Union, the Women's Commission of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Women Labour Collective, the Anarchist Women, the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen), the Revolutionary Workers' Party, the Workers Movement Party (EHP), the Labour Party (EMEP), High School Students Youth Hope and the Community Centres. Also district women assemblies and several women initiatives supported the meeting. (ÇT)