Millions of women took to the streets over the weekend to demonstrate against violence and perennial gender inequality worldwide. But in places like Paris and Istanbul, what participants found was more violence from police forces.
Activists and feminist associations in France denounced “police violence” during a demonstration in Paris on Saturday, where more than nine people were arrested after law enforcement officials tried to “disperse” the march at the level of the Place de la République, according to a report from the capital’s prefecture.
“I am dismayed to see that the Ministry of the Interior has chosen to deploy means to repress women instead of strengthening the means to fight against male violence,” the president of the Women’s Foundation, Anne-Cécile Mailfert, said on Twitter.
“Feminists have been beaten by the police while demonstrating against sexual violence,” agreed activist Caroline De Hass of the #NousToutes collective.
Despite government members and political candidates declaring that police violence was “absolutely unjustifiable,” the reality is that this remains the institutionalized response mechanism, both in the homes and on the streets, and within the agencies of power.
This reality was replicated in Istanbul, Turkey, where the police also used tear gas to disperse a handful of women who were left behind from the great feminist march on Sunday.
According to Reuters, the small group of people concentrated on the edge of Taksim Square faced a human blockade by police who were trying to prevent them from moving towards Istiklal Street, as it was an area that was not designated by the assembly and the demonstrations according to the law, the governor’s office explained in a statement.
In countries where the law and theocracy are even more oppressive, the feminist struggle also faced violence and repression.
In Pakistan, the women’s community was able to demonstrate in much of the country, according to The Associated Press, “despite petitions filed in court seeking to stop them,” especially against pro-abortion initiatives.
Amid threats of violence, the women did not stop and took to the streets to protest the insecurity they’re subjected to, where open harassment is normalized and protected by law and religion.
In fact, the main Islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, “organized its own rallies to counter the march.”
In Bamenda, Cameroon, explosives were reportedly detonated near the marches, and in Bishek, the Kyrgyz capital, a group of men attacked the women’s demonstration. Of the 60 people arrested in the incident, the majority were women.
It seems that, although some spaces have been conquered in the West during the last decades, the fight against violence — especially institutionalized violence — still remains unmoved by an inch in much of the world.