Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | ePaper

Int'l Women's Day celebrations in Europe and gender equality in Turkey

  • Print
Marie-Louise Gumuchian :
Campaigners for gender equality took to European city streets on Friday to mark International Women's Day with celebrations and protests, while in Turkey police fired tear gas to break up a crowd of several thousand women in Istanbul in the evening.
In Spain, hundreds of thousands of women, wearing purple and raising their fists, took to the streets of cities around the country calling for greater gender equality.
The issue has become deeply divisive in Spain ahead of a national election on April 28. A new far-right party, Vox, has called for a 2004 law on domestic violence against women to be scrapped, and stands to win dozens of seats, opinion polls show.
In Berlin, city authorities declared Women's Day a formal holiday and thousands joined a colorful demonstration under sunny skies at the German capital's Alexanderplatz.
In Paris, demonstrators from Amnesty International waved placards outside the Saudi Arabian embassy that read "Honk for women's rights", and called for the release of jailed women activists, including some campaigners for the right to drive in the deeply conservative kingdom.
In Athens and Kiev, women protesters demanded equality and an end to violence against women.
In Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, hundreds called for the release of Syrian women in jail. But in the evening, Turkish police fired tear gas to break up a crowd gathered for a march, Reuters witnesses said.
Hundreds of riot police blocked the marchers' path to prevent them advancing along the district's main pedestrian avenue. Police then fired pepper spray and pellets containing tear gas to disperse the crowd, and scuffles broke out as they pursued the women into side streets off the avenue.
It was not clear if anyone was hurt or if people were detained.
Turkish police regularly block the staging of protests in central Istanbul and elsewhere. Ankara tightened restrictions after the imposition of emergency rule following an attempted coup in 2016. The state of emergency was lifted last July.
In Russia, where Women's Day has been an important festival since Communist times, flowers and congratulatory messages decorated public spaces.
In Spain, one of the country's largest unions, UGT, said an estimated 6 million people went on strike across the country for at least two hours to demand equal pay and rights for women.
Spain's government said it would not provide estimates on the rate of participation.
"Many people are trying to demonize feminism while it has always been a fight for equality," said Ana Sanz, 36, dressed in a red overcoat and white bonnet echoing the uniforms worn in the dystopian novel and TV series "The Handmaid's Tale".
Tens of thousands of women, mostly students, crammed streets and squares in the Spanish capital Madrid, chanting and carrying placards saying: "Liberty, Equality, Friendship" and "The way I dress does not change the respect I deserve!"
In Berlin's Alexanderplatz, protester Anna Lob told Reuters she had been sexually assaulted during an internship.
"A male colleague grabbed my ass while I was standing in a circle with some men," she said. "Physical assaults in any form or (sexist) comments, jokes or something you have to listen to over and over again - that is a form of discrimination."
Also in Alexanderplatz, Paula Schramm said she had seen some moves toward greater equality but many women remained disadvantaged in their daily lives. "And that is why I am here. I want to change this so that it becomes equal at some point."
In Paris, Cameroonian rights activist Aissa Doumara was honored for her campaign against forced marriages by President Emmanuel Macron. At a ceremony at the Elysee Palace, he handed Doumara the first women's rights prize dedicated to the late French minister and abortion campaigner Simone Veil.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa joined a women's rights protest in downtown Lisbon. "When there is a difference of 18 percent on average between the salary of men and women, disparity in political positions, and when there is barbarity such as gender violence, it's a sign that there is still much to do in the fight for women's rights," he told the crowd.
Twelve women have died so far this year in domestic violence in Portugal.
In London, Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex, said she hoped the baby she is expecting this spring with Britain's Prince Harry would follow in her feminist footsteps.
The ex-"Suits" actress made the comment during a Women's Day panel discussion at King's College London.
Asked how the "bump" - her first baby - was treating her, the 37-year-old told the audience: "Very well."
"I'd seen this documentary on Netflix about feminism and one of the things they said during pregnancy was, 'I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism'," she said.
"I love that. So boy or girl or whatever it is, we hope that that's the case, with our little bump."

(Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Reuters)

More News For this Category

Fate of Rohingya children and the silent global community

THE future of Rohingya children is deeply uncertain. Though numerable foreign dignitaries, ministers, bureaucrats, Nobel laureates, the Pope and showbiz celebrities visited the refugee camps, nothing has changed. Truly, the

Why youths taking life risk to get a job in foreign lands?

STATE Minister for Foreign Affairs yesterday said the government has taken zero tolerance policy against illegal migration. "Our government will not tolerate any illegal practices in migration. Even a single

The 'Unpeople' Of India!

Abdul Khaliq :I fear for our future as a secular, multicultural country that once celebrated a richness of culture and tradition. Till not long ago we affirmed our common humanity

Human Mind

Melissa Martin :Firearms are not the deadliest weapon-it is the human mind, what's between the two ears. "Perception is a clash of mind and eye, the eye believing what it

Water sharing of common rivers between BD and India

BANGLADESH has requested India to hold a secretary-level meeting for resuming talks on water sharing of common rivers stalled for nine years, holding back the signing of Teesta deal and

Save farmers, buy rice directly from them

DESPITE prevailing agony and dissatisfaction among the farmers across the country over the low price of paddy than their cost, the government has no plan to compensate or complying farmers'

Non Performing Loans

Mir Mahmudul Haque Chowdhury :Non-Performing Loan (NPL) is that portion of loan which has already become default or close to be defaulted. When a bank fails to collect the interest

Right To Academic Freedom

Bipasha  Neharkia Barua :Professor of English Language and Literature Department of Chittagong University Masud Mahmud has been accused of discussing unrelated sexuality in the class. Following this, Bipasha Neharkia Barua,

Take steps to make Eid journey hassle-free

BANGLADESH Road Transport Corporation will start selling advance bus tickets on inter district routes under its special Eid service from Monday. The Corporation's Eid special service will be available between

Protect the rivers from grabbers

THE National River Conservation Commission has warned a dozen of government officials for their inaction to free the River Meghna from grabbers and take action within seven days. The Commission