Women protest against honour killings

Thousands of Turkish women on Tuesday took the streets for International Women's Day to denounce honour crimes and violence against women in the country.

Around 2,000 women marched downtown in Ankara chanting "Stop Women Killings" and "Don't Turn Our Wedding Dresses into Shrouds," an AFP photographer said.

Responding to a call by feminist organisations, the group demanded stronger laws against the perpetrators of honour crimes, which are committed against women purportedly to restore a family's honour.

In Istanbul, hundreds of women marched at the central Taksim square raising similar demands. Several demonstrations were held across the country, according to media reports.

The Turkish Penal Code that took effect in 2005 increased penalties against perpetrators of these kind of crimes, with jail terms of up to life imprisonment.

The government and women associations have increased efforts in recent years to eradicate honour killings, which claim the lives of many women each year.

An honour killing of a woman by a male family member may be because she was raped or because she eloped with a boyfriend to escape an arranged marriage.

The tradition has been taken to such extremes that some women have even been killed for speaking to foreigners, or for calling a radio station to request a song.

Polygamy, though illegal, also exists in Turkey. According to a recent report, 187,000 Turkish women share their husband with a second wife through a religious marriage.

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