Turkish police have tear gas for women protesting violence

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Turkish police have fired tear gas to break a protest by women in Istanbul who marched to push for Turkey’s return to a landmark treaty aimed at protecting women from violence

ISTANBUL – Turkish police fired tear gas on Thursday to break a protest in Istanbul by women demanding the country’s return to a landmark international treaty, signed in the same city, which is meant to protect women from violence.

The women marched along Istanbul’s main pedestrian street, Istiklal, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. With colorful banners, they chanted slogans and promised not to give up the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention.

Riot police, who had set up barricades at the end of the street to prevent them from continuing, fired tear gas as a group of protesters tried to break through the barriers. At least one protester was injured, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Similar protests were held in Ankara and other cities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled Turkey out of the convention with a surprise overnight decree in March, which triggered condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries. A court appeal to prevent the move was rejected and Turkey’s withdrawal was formalized in July.

Some officials from Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party had called for a review of the agreement, claiming that it was not in line with Turkey’s conservative values.

The government announced its own “Action Plan to Combat Violence Against Women”, including objectives such as reviewing legal proceedings, improving protection services and collecting data on violence.

Human rights groups say violence against women is on the rise in Turkey.

The defense group, We Will Stop Femicide, says that 353 women have been murdered so far in Turkey in 2021, and 409 were killed last year. In October, 18 women were killed by men and 19 others were found dead under suspicious circumstances, according to the group.

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