Riot police fire gas, block march until Women’s Day in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Riot police set up barricades and used pepper spray to prevent protesters from joining the march on International Women’s Day in central Istanbul on Tuesday. At least 38 women were detained, media reported.

As in previous years, the authorities declared the main square of the city of Taksim and the surrounding areas prohibited for demonstrations. The riot police then set up metal barricades around Taksim and on the side streets leading to the square as well as to the nearest pedestrian road.

Police used gas to disperse group of demonstrators who tried to break through the police rows. At least one woman lost consciousness from the gas, according to Halk TV.

Meanwhile, a group of demonstrators was detained as they tried to board a ferry across the Bosphorus to join the march, the Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Demonstrators in Turkey are using events dedicated to Women’s Day on March 8 to insist on decisive measures to prevent violence against women by former partners or family members. At least 73 women have been killed in Turkey since the beginning of the year, according to the We Stop Femicide platform.

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Last year, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew Turkey from the European Treaty on the Elimination of Violence against Women, sparking similar protests and widespread international condemnation. The move came after some members of Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party called for a revision of the agreement, arguing it contradicted Turkey’s conservative values.

Last week, Erdogan promised a series of judicial reforms to end acts of violence against women. The measures include increasing the term of imprisonment if the victims of murder, injury, torture or ill-treatment are women, he said. They would persecute the crime and allow the authorities to appoint free lawyers for women victims of violence.

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