Nearly 3,000 women marched in Kadıköy to protest the recent statements delivered by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government officials against abortion, while men and children also attended the rally to lend their support.
"The AKP (Justice and Development Party) government is now mounting a fresh attack that aims to subordinate women's bodies, identities and labor to the absolute sovereignty of men and the state," said a joint press release issued by the event's organizers.
The demonstrators marched from the Bull Monument in Kadıköy toward the İskele Square, chanting slogans against the recent outburst by government officials. "Abortion is a right, Uludere a massacre," "Speak up, scream out, abortion is a right," "Take your hands off my body, Tayyip," "Misogynistic Tayyip Erdoğan," "Long live women's solidarity," and "Jin Jiyan Azadi," the protesters shouted.
"Banning abortion, the presentation of motherhood as a woman's chief duty, the denouncement of women as unequal citizens of this society... [Calling on women] to give birth under any circumstances is tantamount to reducing them to their reproductive capabilities and to literally presenting them as incubators!" the press release said.
Artist Pınar Aydınlar, actress Feride Çetin, a representative from the College Women Collective, Yıldız Ay from the Co-operation Women's Union Initiative, and Yıldız İmrek from the Women's Council of the People's Democratic Congress (HDK) also delivered speeches at the rally.
The demonstrators also called for the culprits of the Roboski massacre, a botched air strike that killed 34 civilians last year in the southeastern province of Şırnak, to be put to trial as well.
Campaign captures demonstrators' imagination
"My Body, My Decision," a campaign launched by bianet, stirred significant attention among the protesters during the rally. Many women participated in the meeting with the writing "My Body, My Decision" inscribed on their bodies and performed the traditional "Halay" dance.
Volunteers also carried placards of the website "Benimkararim.org" ("My Decision,") and women wore the site's stickers on their bodies.
The women's branches of a number of political parties had made the call for Sunday's demonstration, including the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP,) Socialist Women's Councils, the Turkey Communist Party (TKP,) the Labor Movement Party (EHP,) the College Women Collective, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (KESK) and the Revolutionary Workers' Party (DİP.)
Some 9,000 people had signed up on Facebook to join the rally.
Prime Minister Erdoğan had recently compared the practice of abortion to the Roboski massacre, sparking a highly contentious public debate on the matter. A number of government officials also issued statements backing the prime minister's comments in the ensuing days. (ÇT/NV)