Turkish police on Sunday reportedly detained six protesters and violently broke up a demonstration in Istanbul, during which hundreds of women gathered to perform a Chilean anti-rape song that has become an international feminist anthem.
The gathering took place in the neighborhood of Kadikoy, on the Asian side of the city, where 300 women came to enact “A Rapist in Your Path” (Un violador en tu camino), which was first performed late November in Santiago, Chile, amid anti-government protests against rising social inequality in the Latin American country.
The chant holds the police and the legal system partially responsible for systematic violence against women and has quickly gone viral, being performed across Latin America, as well as Spain, France, India and Turkey.
Turkish police considered the lyrics of the protest song unacceptable, according to the Argentine news site Infobae, and confiscated the protesters’ megaphone when they wanted to repeat the anthem in its original Spanish after having finished a Turkish version.
In video from the scene, police in riot gear and brandishing shields could be seen clashing with the women.
Unfortunately, women’s protest in solidarity of #LasTesis ended up with police breaking up gathering; Violence against women in Turkey has recently been hitting headlines, yet protests against violence usually deemed illegal—women refuse to be silenced. pic.twitter.com/iRqNTqLuul
— Louis Fishman (@Istanbultelaviv) December 8, 2019
Police detained six women, according to Infobae.
“We could not do LasTesis [anthem] in Spanish. It is a shame. We came to shout against the violence of the patriarchy, and they [police] attacked us,” said one protester, according to the Mexican daily Publimetro.
— taz.gazete (@taz_gazete) December 8, 2019
The song “A Rapist in Your Path,” written by the Chilean feminist collective LasTesis, addresses the systematic violation of women’s rights in institutions, including the police, and judicial and political systems.
“The patriarchy is a judge/ Who judges us for being born/ And our punishment/ Is the violence you see/ It is femicide/ Impunity for murderers/ It is disappearance/It is rape,” the lyrics say, aiming to denounce the double victimization of women by their rapists, and the institutions that do not act.
Parts of the song include performers squatting down, simulating a police arrest. They also sport black blindfolds over their eyes.
Chilean women's performance of #UnVioladorEnTuCamino (A Rapist in your Path) has been repeated in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Barcelona Amsterdam and elsewhere.
— Alborada (@alboradanet) December 1, 2019
It concludes with: “The rapist is you/ It’s the cops/ The judges/ The state/ The president. The oppressor state is a macho rapist.”
“A Rapist in Your Path” is based on the work of Argentine anthropologist Rita Segato, who argues that sexual violence is a political crime, not a moral one.
According to a 2014 UN research report, 4 of ten women in Turkey are exposed to physical or sexual violence and only 1 of ten women exposed to violence apply to an institution for help.