On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a taste of struggle and a taste of equality is imprinted on every screaming lip! We are in Kizilay, in the hyper center of Ankara, Turkey. Women of all ages are singing to the rhythm of the violations of their rights. They screech in the hope of being heard, in the hope of being listened to. Kurdish and Turkish voices sound together:
If the slogans chanted by the crowd are so powerful it is because the dangers of being a woman in Turkey are abundant and widespread.
The Violence against Turkish and Kurdish Women in Figures
Turkey does indeed have the sad reputation of being an open-air graveyard for women. And rightly so! If Turkey’s government does not keep official statistics on femicide, the WHO data, however, has shown 38% of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared with about 25% in Europe.
As reported by the platform Anit Sayaç, a total of 360 women have been killed so far this year.
Since Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention in June, the number of femicides has exploded. Henceforth, more than ever, Turkey is becoming the fertile ground for the growing struggle of feminism. Many demonstrators were pictured holding signs calling on to reverse the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, while others deplore the mounting death toll.
Erdoğan is openly positioned against the principle of gender equality. According to him, the egalitarian concept stands against the conservative values of the traditional family. As a result of which the ruling party AKP sees a burgeoning threat in the mobilization of women to defend their rights. But feminist activists are not backing down in the face of the growing pressure against them.
The Cost of Free Speech
Back to back with Erdoğan’s authoritarianism, the symbolism is strong. On one side, women whose only weapon is the placards they courageously raise. On the other, sheltered by their long suits, protected by their weapons; the police.
In Kizilay, the queue is long to get into the lung of equal rights. We have to pass through three rows of policemen and policewomen. We are being checked before we can hope to join the crowd. The organization is flawless and systematic. The four exits are occupied by the forces of the government. Shields, gas launchers, guns; war equipment in short. Militants are the ones who should be fought against!
They are in the minority, occupying 50 square meters! The police pervade the rest of the city. They control the streets, the roofs, the passages, the comings, and goings. As for us, we proudly control a piece of square, a piece of cement! It is big enough to shout our discontent!
After passing through the three main police roadblocks, we find ourselves face to face with the crowd, which embraces the song of the revolution. To the rhythm of the choruses that follow one another, to the rhythm of the speeches that inspire revolt, the voices rise up and denounce.
Among this feminist rumble, one voice resonates more than the others. This voice is the one of Irem, 26 years old, who condemn;
The Power of the Advocacy Voice
The slogans intermingle, the speeches follow each other, but the anger remains! This color of bitterness that penetrates the whole body of the demonstration persists despite all odds. On one side, banners brandished in the air pointing to rapists and killers. On the other, signs depicting images of women who have been unjustly molested, imprisoned, and even killed. As the last hope that these portraits will serve as evidence. “We will not forget and you will pay!” This is what is wanted and this is what is due.
Demonstrators of all ages and genders proudly hold up placards and loudly denounce the apparent contradictions of a regime that turns a blind eye to the violence suffered by women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities.
While thwarting the authority of the police and thus the government, the defiant words of the slogans echo between the buildings and clash with the stoicism of men and women dressed in the government’s monochrome! They watch with a frightening calm that the demonstrators don’t overflow. They prevent any attempt to endanger the order; obey! Those are the guarantors of the conservative philosophy of the state which dictates silence and makes fear reign.
“The police are here to prevent us from protesting but are absent when it comes to protecting us”
Say a young Kurdish student followed by her friend who adds;
“Women are alone and are killed with absolute impunity! When I’ll go home tonight, I’ll be alone facing the risk of being raped in the street or even killed publicly! Because yes, this is what’s happening here in Turkey!”
Many activists denounce the AKP’s obstructionist policy on violence against women. For instance, not only are there no government statistics reflecting the exact number of femicides but also many murders of women are officially considered as suicides. Therefore, the real number of femicides is misrepresented and minimized. It seems that the AKP disguises the cause of women’s deaths to absolve the responsibility that fell upon their shoulders.
As you read these words, 360 women have died as a result of male violence since the beginning of 2021.
Among these 360 women, all killed in Turkey and in Kurdistan, there are daughters, mothers, sisters, colleagues, cousins, friends, lovers, acquaintances, students, smiles, tears, but there will never be those forgotten.
Their names will remain etched
Hatice Soysal, Feride T., Merve Abasiyun, Selma Taşkömür, Kristina Noystka, Vildan İnce, Sevda Kösecik, Aslıhan Dal, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Sevgi Tekin, Ferdane Kurt, Nergis Beyaz, Gonca Pekşen, Şükran Biroğlu, Zerda Cunka, Dilan K., Aleyna Yurtkölesi, Neriman Kıvrak, Canan Acer, Türkiye El Mohammed, Ayşe Özgecan Usta, Şule Yıldırım, İkram Kaplan, Cahide Türkoğlu, Melek Gürler, Bensu Narlı, Hüsna Temurtaş, Miraş Güneş, Işık Gülsen Güder, Aysel Yok, Serap T., Serpil Palalı, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Özlem Salkım, Rabia Ş., Rümeysa Sena Kara, Havva Yılmaz, Engin Dağlı, Nagihan Üste, Ceyla Ö., Yeter Yılmaz, Necla Demirbaş, Bedia Aydoğan, İslim Ahmed, Buket İlhan, Emine Fulya Akçelebi/Bahar Bal, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Ceyda Önal, Seher Elitaş, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Sultan Aktürk, Semra Çetin, Fatma Abravcı, Selma Örenç, Semanur Kaplan, S.D., Ayla Y., M.I., F.S., Melek Aslan, Dilek S., Zeynep Erdoğan, Emel D., Gurbet Üren, Emel Demirtaş, Aysel Atalay, Birgül Çınar, Sibel Kaman, Arife Nur Sarıoğlu, Şirvan Dönmez, Aslı Öztürk, Tuğçe Duman, Melek Elşemo, Yudum Mert, Nesrişah Yorgun, Saynur Sürücü, Ayşe Cenikli, Koçer Dönmez, Filiz Gültekin, Aygün Yıldız, Mevlüde Parlak, Meryem Ş., Esra Çelik, Tuba Menek, Zeynep Yılmaz, Pınar Kaban, Hatice Işık, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Akgül Yıldız, Yıldız Gül, Fatma Öz, Kamile Yavuz, Gülsüm Berk, Güler Kaya, Ayşe Yaylan, Döndü Bakır, Aygül Çakan, Melek Güngörmüş, Hatice Bodur, Şadiye Öztürk, Feride Yılmaz, Süryan Büyük, Mürebba Gökçe, Nasıma Sharıfı, Pınar Can, Nebahat Kurt, Halime Türkaslan, Saniye Kaçar, Semiha Peker, Sibel Aksu, Nuran Koçer, Samira Lkhadır, Saime Ü., Raziye Özcan, Karanfil Özcan, Nur Cemil Hüseyin, Nergiz Sarıkaya, Gamze Gider, Gülbahar Asabay, Mediha Aygün, Futem Alhamadi, Yağmur B., Gizem Canbulut, Hatice Yıldız, Rabia Doğan, Serpil Fikirli, Elif Atay, Beyzanur Özel Fidan, Zilfunur Bakır, Meral Sivrikaya, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Sezen Ünlü, Necla Demirtaş, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Seda Kayadelen, Berrin Dalyanoğlu Keskin, Havva Çöllü, Sevcan Demir, Mervenur Polat, Arzu İlhan Koca, Ayşegül Türkben, Cennet Alptekin, Dila Yıldırım, Ö.A., Zülfi Nur Bakır, Ayşe Ekici, Meryem Güneş, Kader Balcı, Hatice T., Hatice Helvacı, Hacer Çetin, Gonca Akbulut, Birgül Y., Hanım Pınarlı, Fatma Kovan, Zeynep Çubuk İkinci, Mihrican Ekmenci, Gülistan Şaylemez, Gamze Kaçar Bozkurt, Emel Tokkal, Meral Şen, Hanife Yenisu, Ayşe Nazlı Kınacı, Nazife Talas, Tuğçe Mutlu, Şebnem Köker, Handan Çivicik, Yonca Aladağ, Anzelika Sraufant, Funda Bulut, İlknur Çavuş, Hatun Aksoy, Fatma Akdeniz, N.Ö., Derya Aldıç, Öykü Yündün, M.M., Aysel Yaşar, Gülcan Elmacı, Yağmur Tayhan, Şadiye Rüzgar, Mehtap Kırlangıç, Hatice Düzduran, Merivan Avcı, Bircan Doğan, Deniz Poyraz, Sibel Koçan, Halime Uyar, Emine Karakaş, Adalet Bike, Raziye Ebru Erciyes, Kader T., Destina Masal Güler, Elif Çakal, Sadriye Şen, Yemen Akoda, Ayşe Tayurak, Sevda Çelemoğlu, Durdu Kadem Kızıloluk, Gönül Yalçın, Kadriye Akdeniz, Pakize Meşe, Nazlı Meşe, Emel Göker, Kübra Özten, İkra Nur Gürsoy, Hacer Aslantürk, Ebru Aslantürk, Fatma İnan, Z.H., Gülten Durmaz, Azime Özcan, Yasemin Özcan, Atiye Pullu, Hediye Tokay, Yaren Göktaş, Hiranur Göktaş, Elif Göktaş, Semanur Saraç, Ebru Yüksel, Bahar T., Rahime Yalpı, Cennet Gedek, Ela Sonyüksek, Ebru Gürcan, Amara Dwla, Cemile Şenel, Eda Aydoğan, S.Ö., Emine Pulent, Kadriye Alper, Mercan B., Özlem Kılıç, Fatıma Ayderi, Ayşe B., Deniz Filiz, Sedanur Şen, Tuğba D., Aslı Demir, Gurbet Fida, Gülten Yankın, Tuğba Dursun, Nurgül Altıntaş, Hatice Senem, Şennur Çetin, Filiz Akgöz, Gülseren Mamuş, Melike Can, Aynur Mert, Aleyna Mert, Ayşe Aksu, Fatma Saman, Nefes Balkan, Meltem Goncagül, Hasret Tutal, Aleyna Ağgül, Ceren Ünal, Nazlı Koldaguç, Tatyana Fedorova, Hülya Şimşek, Gönül Yılmaz, Sena Altan, Semra Yılmaz, Kamuran Tün, Ayat Adsız, Medine Seyis, Esra Yıldız, Müzeyyen Ç., Hadika Çağlar, Fatmagül Özyer, Elif Hazal Yılmaz, Özlem C., Kader Güler, Şebnem Şirin, Neslihan Batur, Ceren Ersoy, Şükriye Alkan, Gülendam Göz, Sevgil Fidan, Bedriye Kaynak, Şengül Güler, Kader Oktay, Arzu Rahmen Güney, Yasemin A., Ebru Kara, Hatun Güneş, Kader Kırık, Zeynep Üzbaş, Hamiyet Yıldırım, Fatma Keke, Meryem Muradi, Gülsüm Yarış, Selime Pişkin, Nurdan Budak, Sanem Kafalı, Baran Hesen Rasho, Hatice Aslan, İkranur Türksoy, Zekiye Hossini, Yüksel Sevinç, Nermin Güler, Şura Asena Altıntaş, Nilgün Akman Sümer, Şahinder Karakulak, Sultan Karabulut, Neslihan Kaya, Meral Mas, Sahra Gizem Aksu, Elif Ada Topçu, Esra Maş, Ayşegül Aydın, Nurcan T., Songül Değirmenci, Müslüme Yağal, Şahibe Altıntaş, Ekin Gökçe Yıldız, Zeynep Uçar, Minel Y., Songül Sarı, Hayriye Aylin Akutay, Zehra Çakır, Elif Toru, Ulaş Çelikten, Seyhan Gözer, Esra Malgır, Nuriye Ünver, Nursel Taşkın, Meltem Layıkel, Huriye Şentürk, Sevda Şentürk, Behiye Çakır, İlknur Gökay Tuncel, Ayşegül Sert,Ülker İnal, İsmi Bilinmiyor, Azize Gülmez, Başak Cengiz, Leyla Kılınç, Hanife Demirci, Damla Aycan, Selma Özen, Azra Gülendam Haytaoğlu, Esra Hankulu, Elif Sinan, Elif Saltık, Sultan Duran, Sude Akarsu, Senem Barik, Emine Gökkız, Baran Hasan Rasho, Gülcan Kılınç, Gülizar Kılınç, Necla Koçyiğit, Ulviye Avağ, Şahigül Buluş, Hacer Başkaya, Emel Düzgün, Reyhan Korkmaz.