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Today all of Turkey woke up in shock and anger. Özge­can Aslan, a twen­ty-year old stu­dent took a minibus after class­es to go home in Mersin. The dri­ver raped her and called two of his bud­dies to assist him.

The young woman was stabbed, her hands cut off (to avoid DNA iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for she had scratched them while try­ing to defend her­self). Her body was then burned and thrown into a lake. The per­pe­tra­tors were arrest­ed, but what will hap­pen now? How many more women will fall vic­tim to the ultra-patri­ar­chal sys­tem defend­ed by the AKP in Turkey?

It must be said again : after their sev­en years in pow­er, fem­i­ni­cides have increased by 1400%. Find­ing fig­ures con­cern­ing vio­lence against women is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult, how­ev­er 80% of the vic­tims think they can do noth­ing against the vio­lence to which they are sub­ject­ed, accord­ing to a study done in 1995 and 58 % of women are vic­tims of abuse not only by the hus­bands, fiancés, boyfriends, broth­ers, but also my mem­bers of their companion’s fam­i­ly, includ­ing the fem­i­nine mem­bers, accord­ing to a study done in 2002 by the Physicians’s Bureau of Ankara.

These fig­ures reflect the “nor­mal­i­ty” of these vio­lent inci­dents in the mind of women and those around them, and this nor­mal­i­ty is main­tained by those in pow­er. One notes dec­la­ra­tions by Pres­i­dent Erdoğan in which he claims that women “nat­u­ral­ly can­not be equal to men” and that “Islam has defined women’s place : motherhood.”

The Pres­i­dent who was Prime Min­is­ter from 2003 until August 2014, has made sev­er­al state­ments fem­i­nists have con­sid­ered provoca­tive (and with good rea­son). In 2012, he had vio­lent­ly tak­en posi­tion against abor­tion, com­par­ing it to “a mur­der”. He has also demand­ed that women have three chil­dren, in order to boost Turkey’s birthrate.

In such a con­text, defend­ing women against obscu­ran­tism is dif­fi­cult, when deal­ing with lead­ers encour­ag­ing soci­ety to main­tain a patri­ar­cal mod­el that blames the vic­tims. One can quote the dec­la­ra­tions of the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter stat­ing that “a woman must main­tain moral rec­ti­tude and not laugh out loud in pub­lic” and “The man must be moral, the woman also, she must know what is decent and what isn’t.”

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the con­se­quences of this posi­tion are to blame the vic­tims and to con­sid­er women as objects wrong­ful­ly stim­u­lat­ing men’s desires and not as full human beings. In their eyes, women are objects to be exposed or hid­den as deemed convenient.

Accord­ing to a sur­vey done by the Bianet press agency, in Octo­ber 2014 alone, men killed 28 women and ado­les­cents in 16 Turk­ish provinces (almost one woman every day). 21% of the women were killed due to divorce. Over the entire year of 2014, the same sur­vey totals the mur­der of 325 women, 88 rapes, 499 phys­i­cal assaults and 75 vic­tims of sex­u­al harassment.

We will fight for as long as it takes for women to earn the con­sid­er­a­tion they deserve and for the end of sex­ist violence.

A demon­stra­tion is planned for 16h in Kadıköy orga­nized by the Istan­bul fem­i­nist col­lec­tive.

Protests con­tin­ue fol­low­ing Özgecan’s burial…

Update on September 29 2017

The Court of Appeal had annulled the 24 year jail sen­tence imposed on Özgecan’s mur­der­er Fatih Gökçe for “lack of evi­dence”. On Sep­tem­ber 29, the Tri­bunal sen­tenced the mur­der­er to 22 years and 6 months in jail.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Naz Oke
REDACTION | Journaliste 
Chat de gout­tière sans fron­tières. Jour­nal­isme à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mar­mara. Archi­tec­ture à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mimar Sinan, Istanbul.