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Turkish Women Protest in Istanbul to Protect Rights

On Saturday, hundreds of women marched In Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul to protest against the violence and hostility they face daily from the orthodox men who demand them to dress more conservatively.

The march started in the Kadikoy district on the Asian Side of the city and carried the theme “Don’t Mess With My Outfit” throughout the entire time. Women chanted slogans and carried denim shorts on hangers to indicate the type of wardrobes which some men find unacceptable.

The crowds held up posters and LGBT rainbow flags while marching forward with the slogan-”We will not obey, be silenced, be afraid. We will win through resistance”.

Istanbul has been portrayed for long as a liberal place for women and LGBT community. But , in the opinion of critics, President Recep Tayyip Erdoagn and his Islamist-rooted conservative party “Justice and Development Party” have shown little willingness to expand rights for minorities, gay people and females as well as the governing people are intolerant of differences.

The female protesters say the number of verbal and physical assaults have been increasing for their choice of dressing up.

There has been an incident in June where a young woman, Asena Melisa Saglam, was attacked by a man on a bus in Istanbul for her shorts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Video of that incident showed how the man hit her while the bus driver watched stoically.

The footage showed the man asking to the girl “Are you not ashamed of dressing like this during Ramadan?”

In another incident, Canan Kaymakci, was harassed on the street in Istanbul when a man accused her of wearing provocative clothing, saying she should be careful because she was “turning people on”.

Another woman, Aysegul Terzi, was called a devil and kicked by a man on a public bus, also for wearing shorts. Footage showed the man telling her that those who wear shorts “should die”.

Several members of the LGBT community also joined Saturday’s March to show their support to the protest as the authority banned pride march in Istanbul late in June.

Since Erdogan took office nearly 15 years ago, restrictions on wearing the headscarf imposed by Turkey’s secular 20th century leaders have been eased and more women in the mainly Muslim country have chosen to wear it.

Many women protested against the criticism they have faced for choosing to wear headscarves. Likewise the posters held by them read- “Don’t meddle with my headscarf, shorts, outfits”.

>Afsana Ritee

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