Turkish police tear gas women protesting against violence

Around 2,000 people marched to raise awareness of rising femicide in the country on the UN-backed International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women

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Turkish police fired tear gas to disperse protesters marching in Istanbul who were demanding an “end to impunity” for those guilty of violence against women.

About 2,000 people, mostly women, took part in the march to mark the UN-backed International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women.

Demonstrators carried placards that read “End impunity”, while others held up the names of women killed by their current or former partners. A banner at the head of the march read: “We cannot tolerate the loss of one more woman.”

After an initially peaceful gathering, the march turned up Istiklal Avenue, a busy shopping area, where the women were quickly blocked by a wall of police in riot gear who used force to break up the protest.

Ayse Baykal, a teacher, told AFP that she had joined the rally to protest against “the enemies of women” and to “end the murder of women”.

Fellow marcher Ozge Cekcen said: “The killing of women in our country has risen sharply and, throughout society, we are being silenced”.

Turkish media have in recent weeks reported on several cases of women being killed by men.

A Turkish court on Monday handed a life sentence to a man who was convicted of murdering a woman in front of her 10-year-old daughter in a high-profile case that sparked outrage, state media reported.

The murder of Emine Bulut, 38, in August caused a furore after a video of the moments after she was stabbed went viral.

So far this year, 378 women have been killed in Turkey, according to a local women’s rights group. Last year the figure was 440, compared with 121 such deaths in 2011.

Women’s rights groups regularly accuse the Turkish justice system of handing out insufficient penalties to those found guilty of violence against women.

Although Turkey has ratified the Council of Europe’s 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing domestic violence, rights defenders criticise the fact that killers or abusers can receive reduced sentences for “good behaviour” or if they claim provocation.