As Chief of Police Celalettin Cerrah has been transferred to Osmaniye province in southern Turkey as governor, Istanbul is waiting to hear who will be his successor.
According to women's and gay and transgender rights activists, Cerrah's departure is being welcomed.
Police not interested in protecting women
Women in Istanbul recall the annual harrassment of women at New Year in Taksim, accusing the police of remaining inactive.
Zelal Yalçın from the feminist Women's Shelter Purple Roof (Mor Çatı), also said that Cerrah's attitude to women's rights had become clear when he spoke about the murder of a young woman, Münevver Karabulut.
Cerrah is quoted as having said, "The family should have looked after their daughter." According to Yalçın, "It is not the duty of the Chief of Police to make such statements, but to find the perpetrator(s). However, I understood from this statement that Cerrah believes women should stay at home."
Violence frequently used against women demonstrators
She further pointed out that women's rights demonstrations had often been intervened with by the police, often using violence.
"At the International Women's Day demonstration on 8 March 2005 in Beyazit, the police used physical violence against women. When women held an exhibition in Taksim on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the exhibition was destroyed by the police and the women were not allowed to march."
Yalçın has called on the new Chief of Police to make the city a safe place for women, to educate police officers on women's rights and issues, particularly domestic violence, and to prevent the beating and harrassment of women in custody.
Transgender community hoping for positive change
Another group of people who are glad that Cerrah is leaving is the transvestite and transexual community of Istanbul.
According to transexual Beren, "During the six years that Celalettin Cerrah has been Istanbul Chief of Police, the violence against transvestites and transexuals (TT) has risen very noticably. His time in office has been a turning point for the worse."
Compared with the previous Chief of Police, so Beren, Cerrah has made Istanbul a much more difficult city to live in:
Beyoğlu, a central district of Istanbul, used to be a centre for TT people to meet, but the police has raided the square, the nearby Gezi Park and night clubs systematically to make sure TTs leave the area.
TTs working as sex workers in the Şişli and Beyoğlu areas and other districts have been targeted especially. Police detention was followed by discriminatory approaches. Under Article 225 of the Turkish Penal Code, they were taken to court for "indecent exposure". According to Beren, TT persons have experienced at least 10 trials a person. Most of the trials end in acquittal, but the message is clear.
Plain clothes teams have beaten TT individuals with sticks and truncheons or taken them from central districts and thrown them out of the police vehicles in outlying districts.
Beren remembers that Cerrah's predecessor Selefi Hasan Özdemir had called a group of TT individuals to the police station to talk to them. She acknowledged that street sex work was a problem, but argued that it would not be solved with violence. (EZÖ/BÇ/AG)
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