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Issue #1788      August 2, 2017

Don’t tell me what to wear

Hundreds of women marched through Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul last weekend to protest at the violence and animosity they face from men demanding that they dress more conservatively.

The march, dubbed: “Don’t interfere in what I wear”, started in the Kadikoy district on the Asian side of the city as women chanted slogans and carried denim shorts on hangers as examples of the type of clothing some men claim to 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.

Istanbul has long been seen as a relatively liberal city for women and gay people, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood-rooted Justice and Development Party have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities, gays and women and are intolerant of dissent.

Protesters said that there had been an increasing number of verbal and physical attacks on women for their choice of clothing.

In one incident in June, Asena Melisa Saglam 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.

“Aren’t you ashamed of dressing like this during Ramadan?” the footage showed the man asking.

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

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

The march was joined by several members of the gay and transgender community, after Istanbul’s pride march was banned by authorities in late June.

Since Erdogan took office nearly 15 years ago, restrictions on wearing the headscarf have been eased and more women have chosen to wear it.

The march saw several women protesting against criticism that they have faced for wearing headscarves.

Participants carried posters proclaiming: “Don’t interfere with my headscarf, shorts, clothing.”

Morning Star

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