Turkey's women MPs perform viral Chilean anti-rape song in parliament in solidarity with detained activists

Turkey's women MPs perform viral Chilean anti-rape song in parliament in solidarity with detained activists
Several women have been detained in Turkey for performing 'A Rapist in Your Path', an anti-violence song created by Chilean feminists.
3 min read
15 December, 2019
The opposition MPs addressed the protest towards the interior minister [Twitter]
Women opposition politicians performed a viral Chilean anti-rape song in Turkey's parliament on Saturday, directing the chant at the country's interior minister.

The unprecedented protest came a week after seven protesters in Istanbul were detained for performing the feminist song and dance. Another 10 people were reportedly detained for performing the chant in the capital Ankara on Thursday.

Created by feminist group Las Tesis, Un Violador En Tu Camino, or 'A Rapist in Your Path', went viral last month after Chilean women protesters performed the coordinated song and dance en masse. The message of the chant, which targets the state for failing to protect women from violence, has resonated with women across the world.

Authorities in Turkey pointed to one lyric in particular as being against the law: "You are the rapist. You are the killer. It's the cops, the judges, the state and the president." 

Insulting the president or state institutions is a crime in Turkey.

Members of parliament from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) joined in the action on Saturday, directing the blame for what activists describe as record levels of violence against women in Turkey at the feet of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

Lawmakers launched into the performance after a speech by  CHP deputy Sera Kadigil, who organised the protest to coincide with parliamentary budget discussions.

Read more: No longer silent: Why Lebanese women took to the streets against sexual violence

"Mr Interior Minister, there is a dance that started in Chile and has brought the attention of people all over the world on violence against women: Las Tesis. Turkey has become the only country where our parliamentary immunity is necessary to perform this protest," Kadigil said according to local media.

"Now, as women members of parliament, we have some words for you on behalf of all women who have subjected to violence or killed."

Some of the lawmakers also held up images of women killed in prominent domestic violence cases as they performed the song, slapping their parliamentary desks along with the beat in place of the coordinated dance protesters across the world have performed. In videos of the protest shared on social media, several male MPs can also be seen joining in, holding up images of killed women.

Soylu vocally opposed the protest, telling the opposition lawmakers that police had only been responsible for the death of two women in Turkey.

"It really can't be implied that the police, judiciary, state or the president in Turkey are 'killers' or 'rapists'," he said, adding that he would allow the protest "despite" the law and the constitution.

Soylu's response drew condemnation from opposition activists on social media.

Male CHP MP Ozgur Ozel hit back at the interior minister on Twitter, saying "as a male lawmaker, I understand this criticism".

"We must listen to and feel this sound. This sound that comes from the fact that the police have not taken measures [to protect women], that parliament hasn't passed a law, that a judge lets [abusers] off on 'good behaviour'," he said.

Several horrific murders of women by their current or former spouses have put the spotlight on domestic violence in Turkey this year.

According to women's rights group We Will Stop Femicide, 391 women have been killed by men this year so far.

In 2011, 121 women were killed. By 2017, that figure was 409, while 440 were killed in 2018.

Turkish women have participated in several protests this year amid the apparent uptick in violence, several of which have been banned by authorities and countered with tear gas by riot police.

Women have also performed the song in Lebanon and Tunisia.

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