How many times?

I pulled a post yesterday about the purported death in prison of Ahmet Suphi Altındöken who was sentenced aggravated life in prison for the brutal murder of 20 year old  Özgecan Aslan in February 2015.  Although local media here in Mersin have reported his death there has not been anything posted nationally and so I thought it prudent to remove the post rather than spreading possible untruths (although if he had been killed he so totally deserved it and kudos to the dude that took him out).

Aslan

But it does bring to mind the fact that Turkey does have a serious problem with male violence against women, along with other types of sexual assault with “victim blaming” being a large part of defence by the perpetrators.  I recently read an article by Ayşe Arman headed “Was she wearing a mini skirt?”.  Ayşe points out that there should be no “buts” or “howevers” when dealing with a rape victim or the victim of violent crime.  Ayşe wants to see the maximum punishment for the attacker however due to the current unfathomable laws here in Turkey even a violent offender can have his sentence reduced thanks to the “good conduct” law.  What is this nonsense you wonder?  Simply put if the perpetrator behaves himself in Court and dresses well then he can be given a reduced sentence.  Yep.  This shit is real!

The website Bianet reported that, in 2015, there were 1,294 cases of violence by men against women including the murder of 284 women as well as 19 children living with them, while at least 133 women were raped.  Meanwhile a website dedicated to tracking femicide victims, kadincinayetleri, states that more than 1,100 women have been killed by men since 2011. According to the website, in 608 of the cases, the murderers were husbands or ex-husbands of the victims.  For those of you living in Turkey hop on this site and have a look at where you live.  The stats will frighten you.

Late last year the opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a law, dubbed the “Özgecan Law” to increase the penalties in sexual assault cases and assault against women in general.  Unfortunately that law has not yet come to fruition as it appears to have been criticized by a lawyers ‘apparently’ advocating women’s rights who claimed that heavier sentences would increase the brutality of future violence as those involved would want to destroy any evidence.  *shaking my head in disbelief*

And so here in Turkey we continue to live in a society where their leader has been quoted as saying “women and men are not equal” and and just to clarify these outdated statements were made in the year 2014 not by some Sultan of yesteryear.  I know right?

When I first wrote about Özgecan last year I finished my post with a Maya Angelou quote.  I think that quote still stands true today:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”

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Enough is enough

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.

skirts

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.

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