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Turkey Mourns a Female Student's Brutal Death

Picture of Ozgecan Aslan, a 20 years old women who got kidnapped and murdered in Mersin, Turkey.

Picture of Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old woman who was kidnapped and murdered in Mersin, Turkey. Widely shared. 

Turkey is in shock after the charred body of Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old university student missing since February 11, was found in a riverbed on Friday. A 26-year-old bus driver has confessed to her murder.

Suphi Altindoken, who now faces murder charges was supposed to be taking her home.  According to his own testimony, he first tried to rape Aslan, and when she resisted and fought back, he stabbed her to death.

Following the attack, Altindoken, his 50-year-old father, and his friend Fatih Gökce, burned the body to dispose of the evidence. 

Everyday violence against women

In a country where violence against women has become alarmingly routine, the unfortunate, brutal, and inhumane death of a young woman has lead to a surge in public indignation. Ever since Aslan's body was found, thousands have gathered throughout Turkey to demand justice for her death and an end to violence against women in the country.

A picture taken of a gathering for Aslan in the Black Sea city of Trabzon highlights the extent of public mobilisation over her death:

In Trabzon, thousands are on the streets for Ozgecan Aslan.

On social media, people have been using the hash tags #OzgecanAslan, #Ozgecanicinsiyahgiy (wear black for Ozgecan) when discussing the Aslan case. 

 

Instead of teaching women how to shout, teach men how to behave. #OzgecanAslan #Ozgecanicinsiyahgiy.

Stories with no end in sight

The murder has also produced a hash tag #sendeanlat (tell your story too) to gather women's experiences of harassment and violence. A Twitter search returns thousands of responses:  

I feel uneasy when I realize that I am the only woman in the minibus, bus, or dolmus [a type of public transportation] late at night. #sendeanlat.

 

what about the men that approach you in the car while you are waiting at the bus stop or waiting for a cab by the road? #sendeanlat

 

#sendeanlat And then there are the psychological harassment methods: ‘you cannot do it’, ‘you are weak’, etc.

 

Think about the things written under this hash tag, then imagine the tweets that were deleted without being sent. It is impossible to describe. #sendeanlat

State officials and members of the ruling conservative AKP (Justice) party have been regularly criticised by civil society for their weak stance  on violence against women and gender equality. Although Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that he will do “whatever it takes” to stop the violence against women while taking part in a rally in for Aslan in Antalya on February 15, so far the government has not put forward any concrete proposals to combat the problem.

Amid a lack of ideas on the part of the state, public figures such as university lecturer Nurullah Ardıc have added their voice to the debate. But Ardıc's notion of ‘pink buses‘ — colour-coded public transport reserved only for women — seems to showcase rather than solve the deep rooted gender prejudices in Turkish society. 

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