Hundreds of men and women around Turkey, together with others in more than 150 countries, danced en masse across the country on Thursday to raise their voice against domestic violence and mark this year's Valentine's Day with protests against abuse.
The international event celebrated in Turkey and around the world aims to bring a halt to violence against women and children in tandem with the Valentine's Day holiday. In celebration of the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the global activist movement founded by American activist Eve Ensler to end violence against women and girls, millions of women and men heeded the call to “walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence” as part of an international campaign titled “One Billion Rising.”
The major V-Day event in Turkey took place in a square in İstanbul's Kadıköy district, where hundreds of people gathered at 7 p.m. to dance with music until midnight. Many politicians and artists also participated in the event, in which people chanted slogans against violence. The crowd then walked to a large hall in the same district to carry on the dancing there accompanied by a DJ set, while professional dance groups performed on a stage. The event continued with speeches made on domestic violence and other topics such as the relationship between consumption and Valentine's Day.
Hundreds of others gathered in Kuğulu Park in Ankara's Çankaya district, where they posted banners carrying the slogan of the V-Day campaign: “One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.” Speaking at the event, Çankaya Mayor Bülent Tanık commended the group for coming together to show that they are against the violence on women. “I believe people here will feel the spirit of solidarity better with music and dancing. We give our support to the 1 billion people dancing tonight,” Tanık said on Thursday. Çankaya Municipality officials distributed carnations to women throughout the night. The evening also featured performances and exhibitions by street artists, painters, dancers and choirs.
More than 15 provinces in the country saw One Billion Rising events on Valentine's Day. Most of the events were organized by municipalities, while women and human rights associations also threw their support behind the demonstrations. In most of the provinces, the participants followed the lead of professional dancers performing on a stage, from where they could be seen by the attendees who danced along.
In some events, like that of the northern province of Ordu, participants performed traditional dances like the “horon,” a style of dance in the Black Sea region that retains aspects of Greek and Persian dancing styles. Hundreds sat and watched in Ordu as dozens others danced the traditional horon while holding hands. Women were by no means the only participants at the V-Day events. Hakan Adanır, a participant, said violence against women is not merely a women's problem, but that it is a social problem that also affects men. Holding a banner that read “Let's say ‘Stop' to murders of women,” he added, “Men also have mothers, sisters or daughters. Violence against women means violence against our female relatives as well, and I think no man can approve such thing. We should look at it this way, too.”
Meanwhile, some deputies also danced in the Parliament building in Ankara to show their support for the campaign. In Brussels, Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin joined a One Billion Rising event where she danced with other participants.
Valentine's Day in Turkey was also marked with an exceedingly high number of wedding ceremonies scheduled to coincide with the holiday. Municipalities normally holding anywhere between five and 15 wedding ceremonies a day held 30 to 50 ceremonies on Thursday, as many couples applied long before to get married on Feb. 14. Most of the municipalities continued working until 8 p.m., three hours past their normal closing time.
In the Mamak Municipality of Ankara, 60 couples were married on Thursday, amounting to a newly registered marriage every five minutes. There were 160 applications for marriage ceremonies for the month of February, 60 of which were made for Feb. 14, municipality officials said.
One of the couples that got married on Valentine's Day was Cuma Çetiner, 60, and Gevri Çetiner, 62. The couple had been married before and are parents to seven children. But 22 years after their divorce, the couple were married again on Thursday. The groom said he was as happy as he was at their first marriage ceremony.