Mexico City: Women filled the streets of the world's largest cities on Sunday to protest against gender violence and inequality on International Women's Day, with the mothers of murdered girls leading a march in Mexico City and participants in Paris inveighing against the "virus of the patriarchy."
Women work on painting the names of more than 3000 victims of femicide on Mexico City’s main plaza, The Zocalo, on International Women’s Day.Credit:AP
While many protests were peaceful celebrations others were marred by tension, with security forces arresting demonstrators at a rally in Kyrgyzstan and police reportedly using tear gas to break up a demonstration by thousands of women in Turkey.
In Islamabad, religious conservatives pelted campaigners with stones, shoes and sticks as they marched.
"In many different ways or forms, women are being exploited and taken advantage of," Arlene Brosas, the representative of a Filipino advocacy group, said during a rally that drew hundreds to the area near the Philippine presidential palace.
Protesters called for higher pay and job security, and demanded that President Rodrigo Duterte respect women's rights.
Spectators look on as French-Chilean singer Ana Tijoux performs during a concert by female artists on the eve of International Women’s Day, in the Zocalo in Mexico City.Credit:AP
Turkish riot police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators who, in defiance of a government ban, tried to march along Istanbul's main pedestrian street to mark International Women's Day, media reports said.
Turkish authorities declared Istiklal street, near Istanbul's main Taksim square, off-limits, and said the planned march down the avenue was unauthorised. Thousands of demonstrators, most of them women, gathered near Istiklal regardless and tried to break through police barricades to reach it, according to the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper and other media.
The independent T24 news website said police also fired blanks to disperse the crowd.
In Pakistan, women managed to rally in cities across the country, despite petitions filed in court seeking to stop them. The opposition was stirred in part by controversy over a slogan used in last year's march: "My Body, My Choice."
A woman stands on the ledge of a water fountain that has been stained red during a march for International Women’s Day in Mexico City.Credit:AP
Some conservative groups had threatened to stop this year's marches by force. But Pakistani officials pledged to protect the marchers. The rallies are notable in a conservative country where women often do not feel safe in public places because of open harassment. The main Islamic political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, organised its own rallies to counter the march.
Women and men joined the event in Islamabad, one of several rallies across the country, for what is known in Pakistan as the Aurat March, using the Urdu word for women.
Hundreds of men and women from the Red Mosque brigade, consisting of several local militant groups, and a Taliban allied religious party staged a rival rally just across from the women's march venue, District Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat said.
Police official Mazhar Niazi said the officers blocked the Islamists as they tried to break through a cordon to attack the marchers.
A Reuters witness and Niazi said the Islamists threw stones, bricks, sticks and shoes at the marchers. Niazi said no one was injured.
Tens of thousands of women filled the streets of Mexico's capital to protest rampant femicides and impunity for the killers. The country has seen a series of rowdy protests by women who have vandalised monuments and metro stations to express their anger in one of the world's most dangerous countries to be a woman.
On average, more than 10 women are slain each day in Mexico, often by their male partners.
The mothers of slain women and girls led Sunday's march, with people cheering them on, chanting: "You're not alone!" They were followed by homemakers, students and mothers with small children wearing purple shirts, bandannas and hats.
Demonstrators are surrouned by a cloud of tear gas during an International Women’s Day march in Mexico City.Credit:AP
"They kill us, they rape us and nobody does anything," some chanted.
National police estimated 125,000 took part in the capital and nearly 35,000 in other cities, but organisers said the crowds were far larger. Scattered clashes broke out at points when demonstrators threw rocks at police, who responded with water cannon.
Many protesters demanded that a proposed new constitution strengthen rights for women and thousands wore green scarves in a show of support for activists in neighbouring Argentina, which is considering a proposal to legalise elective abortion.
Tens of thousands of women also marched through Paris, inveighing against the patriarchy.
Pakistani police officers stand guard during a rally for International Women’s Day in Islamabad, Pakistan.Credit:AP
"Enough impunity!" chanted some activists, who focused on France's unusually high rate of women killed by their husbands. Last year, one woman was killed every two or three days by a current or former partner, and the government is increasing efforts to crack down on domestic violence.
"They should provide resources for shelters for women, victims of violence, real resources, human resources, also prevention programs for violent men," union activist Julia Parbotin said.
Tens of thousands of women also marched in Madrid and other Spanish cities, despite concern over the spread of the new coronavirus.
A massive banner reading, "With rights, without barriers. Feminists without frontiers" in Spanish was carried at the front of the march in the capital.
Spanish health authorities did not put any restrictions on the march, but recommended that anyone with symptoms similar to those of the new coronavirus stay home. Authorities said 120,000 people participated in Madrid's march, down from 350,000 last year.
At a school in East London, meanwhile, the duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, joined students in listening to speeches about women labor activists, and urged both girls and boys to respect the contributions of women every day of the year.
"For young men … you have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life – protect them. Make sure they are feeling valued and safe," she told the students.
But safety was in short supply at some events to mark the day.
The detonation of explosives triggered panic at a ceremony in Bamenda, an English-speaking town in the northwest of Cameroon. Suspicions focused on separatists who had vowed to disrupt the events. No one was killed or wounded.
Police in Bishek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, detained about 60 people after a group of unidentified men broke up what authorities called an unauthorised rally. About 10 women were released with charges of resisting police, the Akipress news agency reported, citing an attorney.
In Brazil, protests took a political turn, with many of the tens of thousands of protesters in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia denouncing the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has made comments seen by many as offensive to women.
In Mexico, where activists plan to hold a "Day Without Women" on Monday, Natalia Olalde said she marched because she's fed up with the lack of justice for women in the country.
Government data shows that 3825 women in Mexico met violent deaths last year, 7 per cent more than in 2018. Authorities seem incapable of preventing or properly investigating the crimes, very few of which result in convictions.
Source: Read Full Article