Sunday, March 8, 2020

Int'l Women's Day: Clashes, CV-19, Strike

Jason Slotkin, Diaa Hadid, Philip Reeves (NPR, March 8, 2020); Editors, Wisdom Quarterly
Marchers in Santiago, Chile, flooded the streets as part of International Women's Day marches. Confrontations with police were reported at events in Chile and Turkey and other countries (Esteban Felix/AP).

Organizers and marchers have been out marking International Women's Day. A holiday with its origins in the labor and socialist movements of the 20th century, the day now recognized by the United Nations occasions rallies and events from Caracas to Baghdad to spotlight issues facing women globally.

This year, rallies in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan were met with violence while marchers in Turkey and Chile were confronted by police. The COVID-19 outbreak forced cancellations while others boldly marched, defying fears of the epidemic.

Here's a round-up of the news and pictures to come from International Women's Day 2020.

Spectators chant "Justice!" after Chilean singer Mon Laferte was joined by Mexico's Vivir Quintana and a chorus of dozens to perform an anti-femicide song during a concert on the eve of International Women's Day in Mexico City Saturday (Rebecca Blackwell/AP).

This year's International Women's Day comes on the eve of a planned "women's strike" in Mexico Monday.

Spurred on by feminist activists, the strike comes in the wake of intensifying protests and demands for government actions against the often grisly murders of women in the country.

A woman helps paint the names of some of more than 3,000 victims of femicide on the plaza of the Zocalo in Mexico City, on International Women's Day, Sunday. Protests against gender violence in Mexico have intensified in recent years amid an increase in killings of women and girls (Rebecca Blackwell/AP).
Government estimates say 10 Mexican women are killed daily with more than 3,800 killed last year alone. Many of those cases involve sexual assault. The strike calling on women to abstain from work and school for a day has gained traction, The Associated Press reports, reaching far beyond the Mexico's activist circles.

Marta Patricia Ramírez, a housewife, told the wire service she organized a neighborhood event to discuss harassment. Dentist Jesica Solis will keep her office closed. Marta Pérez told the AP she won't lift a plate Monday and that her daughter will not go on social media.

The strike has also gotten the go-ahead from many large employers in Mexico. Walmart says its 108,000 female workers are allowed to join the action. Ford, banking and media company Grupo Salinas, and baked goods producer Bimbo are supporting the movement, The Washington Post adds.

The Post also reports that 21 million women are registered as workers in Mexico.

In the days leading up to the strike, women have been out in force with thousands attending events. On Saturday a concert performed entirely by female artists packed Mexico City's Zocalo, the metropolis's main square. Attendees chanted "justice" as a singers performed the anti-femicide anthem, "Song Without Fear," the AP reports.

On Sunday, activists painted more than 3,000 names of victims across that same square. Some 20,000 were expected to march in the Mexican capital Sunday.
  • Coronavirus: events canceled, others march despite fears
Regions hit hardest by the spreading coronavirus outbreak felt its impact on International Women's Day celebrations. Both South Korea and China — the countries reporting the highest rates of infections — called off public events.

China used the day to highlight work of female medical staff fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Elsewhere in Asia, The Bangkok Post reports marches went ahead in Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as in Thailand, where women demanded increased labor protections and greater rights.

While Italy, the European country with the greatest number of infections, was in partial lockdown Sunday, celebrations, rallies and marches continued on as planned across the continent, according to Voice of America.
Women march as part of International Women's Day in Paris Sunday (Thibault Camus/AP).

Clashes at International Women's Day marches
Not every celebration of the day of women's rights advocacy went peacefully. In several countries, marchers were faced with opposition by both religious hardliners as well as local authorities.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, demonstrators at a rival rally of hardline Islamists attempted to break through a police barrier, hurling objects, including shoes and stones, at women participating in the march.

Marchers shout slogans during a rally in Islamabad Sunday (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images).
Islamist attackers were particularly enraged by one slogan of the International Women's Day ralliers, "My body, my choice!"

In Kyrgyzstan, women were also reportedly attacked by masked men, then detained by police while organizing a women's day event in the capital Bishkek.

Kyrgyz policemen detain an activist of the Femen women's rights movement during the celebration of the International Women's Day in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Sunday (Vladimir Voronin/AP).
In Turkey, police blocked hundreds of women in Istanbul from entering the city's Taksim Square. The roads leading to the city's famed square were closed because they were "not classified as designated areas for assembly and demonstrations according to law," says a governor's statement quoted by Reuters.

Reuters adds last year's marchers in Turkey were met with tear gas by police attempting to break up their crowd.
Women are sprayed by a police water cannon during clashes near La Moneda presidential palace during a protest marking International Women's Day in Santiago, Chile Sunday (Esteban Felix/AP).

In Chile, there were several reports of clashes with police and a handful of arrests. In the capital Santiago, reports of crowd size conflicted, with organizers saying 2 million marchers flooded the streets while police said it was only 120,000.

The march happened amid ongoing tensions in Chile. Sometimes-violent anti-government protests over social inequality began in October and continue sporadically. Marchers on Sunday decried abuses they said Chile's security services carried out against women during those protests.
  • Elsewhere around the world, in photos
Leaders of various women's groups raise their fists as they march near the Malacanang presidential palace to mark International Women's Day Sunday in Manila, Philippines (Iya Forbes/AP).

A woman holds an Iraqi flag and wearing a T-shirt with Arabic that reads, "No one in this world loves Iraq as much as I do," during a rally demanding women's rights in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday (Khalid Mohammed/AP).
A woman of the National Bolivarian Militia carries her daughter during a pro-government march on International Women's Day in Caracas, Venezuela Sunday (Ariana Cubillos/AP).
Participants take part in the women's "Beauty Run" in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday. Five thousand participants took part in the event in connection with International Women's Day, which is an official holiday in Belarus (Sergei Grits/AP).
Pakistani activists take part in an International Women's Day rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday. Pakistanis held rallies across the country, but were attacked in Islamabad (K.M. Chaudary/AP).

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