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Turkey bans Istanbul International Women's Day rally for second year

A central rallying point has been blocked off [Twitter/@TheTurkishLife]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2020

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#IWD2020: Turkish police have erected barriers in Istanbul where demonstrators plan to march to mark International Women's Day.
Turkish authorities have banned an International Women's Day march set to take place in Istanbul later on Sunday, local media reported.

It is the second year in a row that the Istanbul governorate has refused permission for organisers to hold the annual rally in the city's central Taksim area.

Police placed barriers around Taksim Square, an historic rallying point for protests in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city. The square was the epicentre of the country's 2013 Gezi protest movement.

Authorities have also placed barriers on roads leading up to the square, as well as the Istiklal Avenue thoroughfare that usually acts as a route for the International Women's Day march, T24 reported.

The tighter-than-ever security measures look to restrict movement as demonstrators are expected to mass in the area despite the ban.

Last year, the Istanbul governorate refused to give permission for organisers to hold the International Women's Day rally but the march went ahead regardless.

Thousands of protesters were met with tear gas fired by riot police.

The event has taken place peacefully in previous years.

Similarly, local authorities have banned the annual LGBTQ+ pride march every year since 2016.


Last year's Istanbul march to mark the UN-backed International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women was also dispersed by riot police using tear gas.

Several horrific murders of women by their current or former spouses put the spotlight on domestic violence in Turkey last year.

At least 474 Turkish women were murdered by men in 2019, according to the We Will Stop Femicide platform. Another 49 women were killed in January and February this year.

Figures have risen dramatically over the past decade.

In 2011, 121 women were killed. By 2017, that figure was 409, while 440 were killed in 2018.

The killing of 38-year-old Emine Bulut in August last year sparked outrage across the country.

Bulut, who had divorced her husband four years earlier, was stabbed in a cafe in front of her 10-year-old daughter in the central Anatolian city of Kirikkale. She later died in hospital.

A video of the aftermath of the attack was posted online showing Bulut in the cafe, covered in blood, screaming to her daughter: "I don't want to die."

The tearful girl says: "Mum, please don't die."

Turkish women participated in protests to call for protection against such incidents after Bulut's death, but several more women have been killed in the months since, provoking further outrage and calls for legal reform.

Click to read more of our special coverage for International Women's Day 

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