Deadly Rape In Turkey Triggers National Outcry

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Özgecan Aslan

Credit: via Twitter

Özgecan Aslan

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)– After the killing of a young Turkish woman last week, two hashtags have been trending on Twitter: #sendeanlat (you tell your story too) and #Özgecaniçinsiyahgiy (wear black for Ozgecan.)

The brutal killing of 20-year old student Özgecan Aslan while she was resisting a rape attempt in southern Turkey has triggered national and international outcry over violence against women, a long-simmering issue in the country.

On Feb. 17, UN Women and UNFPA’s Representatives to Turkey issued a joint statement condemning the murder and to "join in solidarity with the thousands of women and men who have taken to the streets across Turkey to say ‘No’ to violence against women and girls." The groups hailed Turkey for signing the Istanbul Convention, a document they said were in line with standards set out in the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). They said it "can be an effective tool in making the world a safer place for women and girls, if implemented."

President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an himself tweeted about the case on Monday, saying Aslan’s killers "deserve to receive the heaviest punishment" and that he was "going to be personally following the case."

Activists, however, have been denouncing the rhetoric of the Islamist government as a factor encouraging violence against women. "This murder is not an isolated incident. … Five women are killed daily in Turkey," Yasemin Yücel, the deputy chairwoman of the Tarsus branch of the Education Personnel Union (E?itim-Sen), said during a protest. She accused the government of encouraging the murder of women by promoting a male-dominant rhetoric, Today’s Zaman reported.

Others have suggested that attacks on women have been legitimized because women have been blamed for seeking "sexual freedom" or "wearing miniskirts."

Since Feb. 13, dozens of rallies have taken place across Turkey in memory of Aslan, The Drum reported. Women in Turkey have begun a social media campaign to share their accounts of sexual harassment and violence under the hashtag  #sendeanlat and called to dress in black and share photos online using #Özgecaniçinsiyahgiy.

Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the crime, the Hurriyet Daily News reported. One of them, Ahmet Suphi Alt?ndöken, 26, confessed to the murder in testimony to a prosecutor. He reportedly told the police that he tried to rape Aslan, who had boarded the minibus he drove, and stabbed her to death before burning her body when he failed in his attack.

Alt?ndöken gave more graphic details in his testimony, The Hurriyet Daily News reported. "After I stabbed her, I saw that she was not dead. I hit her head several times with the crowbar in the minibus," he said, adding that his father and friend helped him to burn and dispose of the body. "I wanted to burn the body, because we had no time to bury it."

The burned body of Aslan, who had been missing for two days, since Feb. 11, was discovered Feb. 13 in a riverbed in Tarsus, south of Turkey.

Alt?ndöken’s father, 50, and 20-year-old friend, Fatih Gökçe, were both sent to prison for being his accomplices.

In 2013 the country was roiled by a high-profile rape case in southeastern Turkey involving four police officers and charges by a 16-year-old young women. The court originally approved the release of all four suspects, triggering some outcry against that decision, The Hurriyet Daily News reported at the time.

Men killed at least 281 women in Turkey in 2014, according to a compilation by the Turkey-based website, Bianet. One hundred and nine women and teenagers were raped or faced rape.

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