Thousands of people marched in protests held in countries around the world Saturday to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
In Paris, hundreds marched after French President Emmanuel Macron announced an initiative to address violence and harassment against women in the country. He said 123 women had been killed by a partner or former partner in France in 2016.
Macron said plans included strengthening the law against those who commit violence against women, encouraging women to take action, and increasing education on the issue — starting from nursery school. He said he hoped to erase the shame victims of violence feel and to change France’s sexist culture.
The group Dare Feminism said in a statement that Macron’s proposals were positive, but the efforts needed to be met with proper funding.
Around the world
Protests also took place from Brazil to Mozambique to Turkey.
In Rome, the noisy procession included people who run safe houses for women who are escaping violent husbands or boyfriends.
Protesters urged Italy’s politicians to focus attention on the issue and increase funding for shelters and other institutions that help women.
Turkish police, however, tried to stop several hundred women from marching, telling them their protest had been banned. But after talks with officials, the peaceful assembly was allowed to take place along Istanbul’s main pedestrian avenue.
“First, the government needs to stop their discriminative policies, even supported by laws, against women, because women will always say no to this,” protester Fatos Ocal said.
Demonstrators criticized the Turkish government’s gender policies and shouted chants that included “We won’t be silent” and “We aren’t afraid.”
“They do not even let this [march] happen. They cannot tolerate this. They do not want us, the women, to be free. But we will not leave the streets, as long as we can,” protester Aysegul Doker said.
The group FemicideMap reported that 1,915 women had been killed in Turkey in the past seven years. In 995 of those cases, the suspect was either the victim’s husband or boyfriend, the report said.
According to the United Nations, violence against women and girls “is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.”
Data from 87 countries from 2005-16 showed that 19 percent of women between ages 15 and 49 said they had experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
As part of the international activities, the U.N. is hosting 16 days of activism to bring attention to the issue of violence against women and girls.