"If a miniskirt is responsible for everything, if wearing a miniskirt means immorality and unchastity, if a woman who wears a miniskirt is sending an invitation about what will happen to her, then we are also sending an invitation." This is the rallying cry behind the most head-turning arm of a massive online campaign decrying violence against women in Turkey, according to BBC News — a campaign that's grown more than 6 million strong on Twitter alone following the death of a 20-year-old student who was reportedly stabbed for trying to resist a rape attempt.
#ozgecanicinminietekgiy Sorun mini etek değil ZİHNİYET pic.twitter.com/0rxn1EgI8Q— @benhastayim Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News reported earlier this month that Özgecan Aslan , a psychology student at Çağ University in southern Turkey, had been missing for two days when police found her burnt remains in a riverbed.
Three men were arrested on Feb. 16 in connection with the young woman's death, and through police interrogation it was learned that one of the suspects — a 26-year-old minibus driver — had abducted Aslan after all other passengers had disembarked from the bus she was on. "[The suspect] exited the scheduled route in spite of Aslan’s protestations and drove to a secluded spot," Hurryiet reported. "When he attempted to rape the woman, she fought back and used pepper spray against her attacker. [The suspect] then stabbed Aslan several times and hit her with an iron pipe, killing her." News of the violent murder spread quickly, prompting mass demonstrations around the country by women's rights activists who say Aslan's death reflects Turkey's growing problem of violence against women and girls. As Al Jazeera notes, the murder rate of women skyrocketed by 1,400 per cent between 2002 and 2009. An estimated 28,000 women were assaulted in 2013 alone, more than 214 of them being murdered "normally by husbands or lovers" according to official figures.
While it was predominantly women driving the original campaign against violence (both online and off,) in the past week, men have taken centre-stage in Turkey's fight for female rights. Men from both Turkey and the neighbouring country of Azerbaijan have been putting their own twist on the #ozgecanicinsiyahgiy hashtag being used by thousands of women on Instagram and Twitter to share photos of themselves wearing black in Aslan's memory.
.... #OzgecanAslan #OzgecanİcinSiyahGiy #ozgecanicin pic.twitter.com/tg0Q3fAHtr— @Hzl_tsc Instead of using the hashtag above, which tranlsates to "wear black for Özgecan," Turkish and Azeri men have been using #ozgecanicinminietekgiy — "wear a miniskirt for Özgecan" — on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to spread their message.
#ozgecanicinminietekgiy Gençler biraz akıllı olun ya. Mini etek giyeceğinize şiddet nasıl engellenir onu düşünün pic.twitter.com/vaI9DtpKAG— @benhastayim
Azerbaycan: Erkeklerden taciz ve tecavüze karşı itiraz olarak #ozgecanicinminietekgiy kampanyası. Bravo size çocuklar pic.twitter.com/dAznrhDSh6— @YeganeAyhan
Azerbaycan: Erkeklerden #ozgecanicinminietekgiy kampanyası http://t.co/DfsAzu5gXW pic.twitter.com/9Ayj7gSOxb— @ortasayfa The hashtag, which first appeared last Wednesday, has now been used more than 11,000 times according to social analytics service Topsy. And men aren't just rocking miniskirts in photos online. They're also taking their legs to the streets to protest violence against women in Turkey.
Some grabbed their mothers' skirts, others wore their girlfriends'. #EteğiniGiyTaksimeGel #ozgecanicinminietekgiy pic.twitter.com/MhotZ3SmQw— @ZambakTukan In an interview with CNN, p rominent Turkish lawyer and activist Hulya Gulbahar called the miniskirt campaign "very effective," noting that this is "the first time women's rights have been so widely endorsed in Turkey."
"The women's movement is trying to tell society, 'My dress is not an excuse for your rape or sexual harassment," he said. "People try to find excuses for rapes and killings. But they didn't find any in this case, because Aslan was very innocent, purely innocent. The protest shows that a short skirt is not an excuse for rape."