I feel like I have fallen down the rabbit hole here. Writing this post took time but it also took a hell of a lot of research on my part and at each breath I found another shocking revelation regarding women’s rights here in Turkey. I had no idea of the shocking statistics – 300 women were killed by men here in Turkey in 2014, an additional 100 more were raped. Enough is enough.
My recent post drew such an amazing response from you but more importantly it has helped get the message out, not just here in Turkey, but all over the world.
With the hashtag #sendeanlat (tell me your story) trending on social media, with over 800,000 hits, the message is simple – Turkish women have had enough. Enough of the innuendo by the young men who trail you home. Enough of the man rubbing himself against you on the train (which happened to me recently in Istanbul). Enough of the suggestion that you may have asked for it by your choice of dress. Enough of an employer using his power to gain your favour and enough of your husband, your father, or even a complete stranger raising their hand for the slightest infraction. Add to this the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy (wear a miniskirt for Özgecan) and you can see that Turkish people really do want their country to change.
With the heightened media attention spurring Turkish politicians into action with promises of harsher punishment against perpetrators here in Mersin billboards have begun to appear with Özgecan’s image asking the question ““Have you heard the screams of Özgecan?” This refers to the recent suggestion by Government officials that women should scream loudly if assaulted. I just want to point out that Özgecan did shout, the authorities confirmed this. She screamed. She scratched. She used pepper spray against her attacker but no one could help her. The fact is that women should not need to scream. Women should be safe to walk down the street, or catch a bus. Rather than teaching women to scream or to protect themselves perhaps it would be better for men to be taught to respect women.
I have to ask myself if teaching respect is enough though as there has also been instances of shaming women in recent days. The most public example was the host of Survivor All Stars Nihat Dogan who, rather than showing sympathy towards what happened to Özgecan he chose to make inappropriate remarks about her attire at the time of her death. This eşek was put in his place pretty swiftly though and was fired from his hosting gig. Good work Channel 8.
Change begins with the current Government. With a little adjustment to their current attitude (do you remember when I wrote this President Erdogan’s recent perception on women’s equality back in November – yikes!) and with an acknowledgement of equality between women and men then lives will really change here for the better. The next step is education which is crucial in the prevention of violence against women and that education needs to start in the schools. Specialised training should be given to teachers to help them identify children at risk and also to teach awareness and behaviour towards not just women but to each other as a whole. Teach children that raising your hand is not the answer and within one generation – only one generation – this antiquated behaviour will be wiped out.
Did you know that in January of this year 27 women were murdered by men here in Turkey. Stop making excuses Turkey. There was no excuse for what happened to Özgecan. There is nothing that can give back that young woman her life, to return her to her family and her friends. Enough is enough.
Normally here I would ask you to like my blog for all updates. Today I am asking you to share this post. The more people who spread the word the better. x