On March 6, Turkish police detained a woman while breaking up a rally celebrating International Women’s Day. The protest was ended quickly as police fired rubber bullets into the crowd.
Despite the government’s hard-handed response, they did issue a ban on the march according to Istanbul’s Governor, who canceled the annual rally due to various security concerns.
Turkey currently ranks 77th out of 138 Countries on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) index of gender equality, and has faced serious criticism internationally for its handling of women’s rights issues, specifically in regards to violence against women and their low participation rate within the workforce.
Further, violence committed by domestic partners is ten times more likely to occur in Turkey than the average European Union country, a point that makes it hard to justify Turkey’s admission into the E.U.
According to witnesses, the police, many of which were in civilian clothing, began shoving members of the group, causing many women to flee as police started firing rubber bullets into the middle of the demonstration.
“We have always said that we would never leave the streets for the March 8 demonstration, and we never will. Neither the police nor the government can stop us,” stated Guris Ozen, one of the women present at the rally in an interview with Reuters. “You see the power of women. We are here despite every obstacle and we will continue to fight for our cause.”
Additional protests for International Women’s Day were broken up in Ankara, where multiple women took to the streets and were pushed back by local authorities.
These events have followed Turkey’s placing limits on the right to peaceful assembly, ultimately granting police much broader powers to detain and arrest protesters.