Turkish women march against rising intolerance in Istanbul

Turkish women march against rising intolerance in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Turkish women march against rising intolerance in Istanbul


Hundreds of women marched in Istanbul on July 29 to protest against violence and animosity they face from men demanding they dress more conservatively.

The march, dubbed “Don’t Mess With My Outfit,” started in the Kadıköy district on the Asian side of the city. Women chanted slogans and carried denim shorts on hangers as examples of the type of clothing some men say they find unacceptable. 

“We will not obey, be silenced, be afraid. We will win through resistance,” the crowds chanted, holding up posters and LGBT rainbow flags.

Protesters say there has been an increase in the number of verbal and physical attacks against women for their choice of clothing in Turkey in recent years.

In one incident in June, a young woman, Asena Melisa Sağlam, was attacked by a man on a bus in Istanbul for wearing shorts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Video of the incident showed the man hitting her while the bus driver watched.

“Are you not ashamed of dressing like this during Ramadan?” the footage showed the man saying. 

In another incident, Canan Kaymakçı, 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, Ayşegül 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.”

The march was joined by several members of the LGBT community, after Istanbul’s Pride March was banned by the governor’s office late in June.

Since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took office nearly 15 years ago, restrictions on wearing the headscarf have been eased and more women in the country have chosen to wear it.  

The march also saw several women protesting against the criticism they have faced for choosing to wear headscarves.

“Don’t meddle with my headscarf, shorts, outfits,” read posters held by participants.