ISTANBUL — Tens of thousands of women took to the streets across Turkey on Wednesday, marching for women’s rights while some also rallied against expanding the president’s powers.
In Istanbul more than 10,000 people, mostly women, walked the long Istiklal Avenue, chanting “end male-perpetrated violence.”
On April 16, the Turkish public will vote on whether to change the current system, which the government argues causes instability, while critics claim greater powers for Erdogan will lead to one-man rule.
A deep purple dominated the colorful crowds in Istanbul who held placards saying “women are free” and “we are strong united.”
The march was organized by multiple women’s rights groups and attendees included LGBT individuals, young women, students and also men— many of whom were carrying “No” posters.
For Nurten Karanci, who attended the march, being a woman in Turkey means a “fight to live, to survive.”
Last year, a woman was attacked in Istanbul for wearing shorts on a public bus, while another woman wearing the hijab said she was kicked and insulted last month. Women’s activists often call for an end to violence against women in a country where hundreds of women are killed every year, often by their husbands.
Despite a heavy police presence and water cannon trucks on standby, the Istanbul march took place peacefully as participants walked from the popular Taksim Square to Sishane on the other end of the avenue on the European side of Istanbul.
“Being a woman anyhow is very complicated, especially today,” said activist Ozlem Gul. “We have to fight against many things. We have to fight against the attacks on our bodies, our work, our opinions. We are in the streets, we won’t let up, and we will keep on the fight as Turkish women.”
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