Behind the banners and bullhorns

While some women celebrated each other by rocking out in concert halls or chanting and drumming in multi-block marches, others gathering soberly in squares to remember women killed in the name of honor or anger.

A playback of what was said and done on International Women’s Day is worth a look in a country with so much daunting news to report about women and so few women given substantial voice in the media.

Some 6,000 women marched through Kadiköy, a district on the Asian side of Istanbul, gathering in Kadıköy square last Sunday. A representative of the 8 March Women’s Platform declared: "In the house, on the street, in the workplace violence is covered up. Women are harassed, raped and checked for virginityÉ "Ayşe" who wants to run away from her husband gets 14 bullets. When Hüseyin Üzmez is protected, the women who protested against him are taken into custody. Pippa Bacca is killed. This much rape and violenceÉis it all a coincidence?"

The group carried banners and shouted slogans, saying "We will resist the patriarchal capitalist system. We insist; we are determined." Last year Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged women to "have three children," to which the women protesters replied, "Listen, PM, don’t make me mad. You go hatch 1, 2, 3 little Turks."

This year’s demonstrations also drew vehement reactions to Turkey’s biggest pop star and now TV presenter İbrahim Tatlıses insulting invited guest, singer Yıldız Tilbe, on his live show. A man known for violence against women close to him, he announced that he had rescued her from pimps years ago.

Another slogan jabbed at Erdoğan’s statement in Davos, when he told Israel’s President Shimon Peres, "You are good at killing." Women protesters shouted, "You in power, you men, you are good at killing, harassing, raping, murdering, being provoked and getting reduced sentences." The reference to provocation and reduced sentences criticizes the judicial system for allowing reductions in sentences for violence against women for certain "provocations."

Women’s groups also protested the new social security law saying it "sentences us to marriage and a husband. Retirement has become a dream for us." They also demanded that domestic labor and caretaking be covered under the social security system.

Firing women in crisis

Emine Özcan reported on bianet that protesters spoke about the inequalities in labor, "be it at workplaces where women earn less than men, or at home, where women are left to cope with housework. The economic crisis, as well as women, were being used an excuse to fire women or keep their wages low."

Lawyer Filiz Karakuş said bosses are using the crisis to justify firing women workers first. But either as a worker or a housewife the woman is the victim of the crisis because their husbands or fathers are fired and women are the ones who are mashed as a result.

"We continue to remain oppressed physically and emotionally by our fathers and husbands, forced to be responsible for food, washing dishes and clothes, rearing children and caring for the old." She also warned that the policies of denial, destruction and war toward Kurds turned into poverty, harassment and rape for women.

Reporting for bianet, Aysel Kiliç asked women in Konya about what March 8 meant to them. Cleaner Fatma Selin asked, "Women’s Day? No, never heard of it. What use is such a day for us when we are worried about getting by, love?

High school student Sebahat Köse: "As long as Konya’s local men don’t leave us alone, as long as we cannot walk the streets by ourselves, 8 March seems silly to me."

Homemaker Deniz Yörük: I am 45 and I have spent so many years at home. I even feel lucky to have gone outside to do the shopping today. As long as the man earns the money, he is valued. We women are not considered worthy in the eyes of men. 8 March? I think I saw it on TV once. They cut a cake. Is that what you are talking about?
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