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article imageWomen protest in Turkey Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jun 19, 2013 in World
Istanbul - About half of the protesters in Turkey are women, and they often take the forefront as they speak out for their personal freedoms and national democracy.
The "Woman in Red" became a symbol of the Gezi Park Protests. A professional woman who went to the park during her lunch break to show support was wearing a red summer dress as police assaulted her with so much pepper spray that her hair flew up in the barrage. A photographer caught this image, and soon it became viral online.
In nearly 3 weeks since the Gezi Park protests began, the role of women has increased as the protests have increased. In cities all over Turkey, thousands have joined together in marches to demand more personal freedom and national democracy against Prime Minister Erdogan who is often called a dictator for restricting people's basic freedoms while trying to establish his Islamist agenda. Erdogan has allowed police to use violent tactics such as targeting protesters with gas canisters and water canon. Thousands of protesters have been injured, and four people have died. Hundreds have been arrested, and Erdogan continues to threaten protesters, even suggesting use of his loyal Ak Party followers or the army.
"Erdogan wants women to stay home and have 3 children," one professional woman told me. "He seeks to limit a woman's access to abortion and pushes the idea that a woman who wears a full-length raincoat and head scarf is admirably and religiously modest. Turkey has a high rate of violence against women. If police see a man threatening his wife in public, they usually do nothing. Sometimes they even joke about it."
"Ataturk set women free from wearing the 'turban' (head scarf)," another Turkish woman declared. "But I think he went too far by banning the turban in government jobs and universities. A woman should be able to wear what she wants!"
"A woman doesn't always get to choose what she wants to wear in Turkey," a Turkish man informed me. "Her father and brothers may insist that she wears the turban or move out of the house. Her husband also can decide how modestly he wants her to dress. There is a lot of pressure on women in Turkey."
Erdogan rose to power over a decade ago by promoting a woman's right to wear the turban. On the Izmit Ak Party website, you can see 7 women posing with 22 men. Six of those women are wearing the turban.
Both "covered" and "uncovered" women have been joining the protests and even taking the front lines. Women have also been injured and arrested along with Turkish men.
"We want the freedom to protest, to wear what we want, to publish what we want in the newspaper without fear of being put in prison, to believe in the religion of our choice (or no religion), and to represent our own government in Ankara where few women hold seats in Parliament," a university professor told me. "And we are not going back into the kitchen."
The famous  woman in red  being assaulted by policemen with pepper spray at Gezi Park
The famous "woman in red" being assaulted by policemen with pepper spray at Gezi Park
The Telegraph
Bystanders greeted Izmit protesters to show their support.  One banner reads  Everywhere is Taksim. ...
Bystanders greeted Izmit protesters to show their support. One banner reads "Everywhere is Taksim." Notice the woman in red.
At a Turkish university  you can find  covered  and  uncovered  women
At a Turkish university, you can find "covered" and "uncovered" women
More about Turkey, gezi park, Women, Protest, Protesters
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