Turkish men don miniskirts to protest killing of woman who fought off rape attack

Stung by the reported killing of a woman as she tried to fight off a rape attack, Turkish men are mounting miniskirt protests at violence against women.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 21, 2015) (REUTERS) – Men put on miniskirts in Istanbul’s Taksim square on Saturday (February 21) to denounce the killing of a 20-year old female student who was reportedly stabbed and beaten to death after trying to fight off a man trying to rape her.

“As you know Ozgecan has been brutally murdered. This is why we are strolling on Taksim square wearing miniskirts. We thought about wearing miniskirts to raise awareness against those using miniskirts as a pretext for violence against women,” protester Tolga Akyildiz said.

“We want to say stop to violence against women and men in Turkey. We are here for Ozgecan but we are also here for women, our mothers, sisters, children and men exposed to violence. We are here to express ourselves,” another protester Ali Riza added.

Despite a surge in violence against women in Turkey last year, the particularly brutal, and public attack on Ozgecan Aslan has become a rallying point, prompting protests and condemnation by politicians.

Police say she was travelling home on a minibus in the southeastern seaside province of Mersin last Wednesday (February 11), when a man tried to rape her, according to reports carried widely in the Turkish media.

The reports suggest that when she retaliated with pepper spray, the suspect stabbed her and beat her to death with an iron bar before enlisting his father and a friend to help dispose of her body by burning it and dumping it in the river.

Human rights monitor Bianet says 281 women were murdered in Turkey in 2014, a 31 percent increase on the previous year.

Nine percent of these had asked for protection from the state, it said, prompting criticism that not enough is being done to protect victims.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Sunni in the patriarchal Muslim majority nation, has in the past been criticised by women’s groups for failing to speak out more against domestic violence, and for saying he did not believe in equality of the sexes.

Some politicians called for the reintroduction of the death penalty in response to the case.