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Turkish Women Protest Sexual Violence Online and in the Streets After Death of #ÖzgecanAslan

The body of 26-year-old Özgecan Aslan was discovered in a riverbed in a town in Southern Turkey. Just hours before, she had fought the attempts of a minibus driver to rape her with pepper spray and her fingernails. He stabbed her, taking her life, and then enlisted the help of his father and a friend to dispose of her dead body. They cut off her hands and burned the corpse.

When the savagery of Aslan’s killer and his accomplices was made public on Friday, it galvanized mass protests all over the country. Thousands of women in cities all over Turkey charged the streets to demand greater accountability from the state and its insitutitions for violence against women. At her funeral, mourning women insisted on carrying her casket, despite a tradition of male pallbearers. They decried rape culture and railed against a judicial system that has over and over again failed them. In 2011, there more than 1,480 cases filed over rape charges in Turkey. Aslan’s death captured a long-simmering anger over the degradation of justice for victims of sexual violence.


The protests took place online as well. The hashtag #ÖzgecanAslan garnered millions of tweets over the weeknd. Aslan’s death also inspired the hashtag #sendeanlat, which translates to #TellYourStory. The hashtag campaign, reportedly launched by a Turkish actress, compelled women to tell their own stories of violence and assault. Over half a million tweets were generated over the weekend using the hashtag.

“At the age of just five, I was harassed by the neighbours' 18-year-old son and did not go out for days.” Translation via Al Jazeera English.

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