Sunday 25th of June an art demonstration took place on Dam Square in Amsterdam to raise awareness about femicide. It was opened with a violin performance by Çisem Özkurt and a speech by Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema. The demonstration was attended by about 100 people. The usually bustling Dam Square transformed into a space for awareness, solidarity, and respect for the female victims and the global problem that still receives insufficient attention. 

Every eight days, a woman in the Netherlands dies from homicide by her (former) partner, often male. Femicide, murder with gender as a specific motive, is a tragic and all too common problem. For this reason, columnist Yesim Candan organized the demonstration for the third consecutive year. Inspired by the artwork of Turkish artist Vahit Tuna, who attached 440 pairs of high heels to the wall of a building in Istanbul (representing the number of women murdered by their partners in Turkey in 2018), 43 women were invited to bring a pair of high heels each, symbolizing each female victim in the Netherlands. 

Mayor Femke Halsema delivered the opening speech, which took place amidst the 43 pairs of high heels, which were painted red on the spot by artist Mick Johan. They were surrounded by a circle of spectators, stakeholders, and bereaved individuals. The demonstration was carried out in a “silent” form, with the invited women participating as part of the demonstration, while the public was welcome as observers, but not as demonstrators. During the demonstration, Olcay Gulsen and Marije Cornelissen, both UN ambassadors against domestic violence, gave speeches on the seriousness of femicide and the importance of this demonstration. A poem was recited by writer and opinion maker Stella Bergsma, and violinist Cisem Ozkurt played the violin among the high heels. Member of the European Parliament Catharina Rinzema was also present to show her support. Finally, two victims, both of whom had lost their mothers due to femicide, delivered emotional speeches that touched the audience, many of whom were moved to tears. As a tribute to their deceased mothers, both daughters placed a pair of high heels worn by their mothers on Dam Square. 

Next year, the demonstration will take place in Brussels, as decided by Catharina Rinzema and organizer Yesim Candan. With this, they hope to inspire and motivate all EU member states to take action against femicide. Catharina expressed the following: 

“Enough is enough! In the fight against femicide, let us raise our voices and clench our fists. Deadly violence against women is not only happening here in the Netherlands; it is a significant problem throughout Europe! 

Every lost life is one too many. It is therefore incomprehensible that there are still six European countries that have not signed the so-called Istanbul Convention and do not seem to take this gruesome phenomenon seriously. This is unfathomable, and I want the political pressure on these countries to be increased. 

Stand up, fight along, and show the world that we will not rest until femicide is a thing of the past. That is why I find it so valuable that we will bring this important event to Brussels next year. Femicide is a major problem that does not stop at our national borders.”