THOUSANDS of women in Turkey yesterday protested at the murder of a young woman who allegedly resisted an attempt by a bus driver to rape her.
Police discovered the burnt body of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, in a riverbed in the city of Mersin, on Friday. They have arrested three men in connection with her death – a minibus driver, his father and a friend.
The Turkish president and prime minister called Ms Aslan’s family to offer their condolences. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu promised the family to hunt those responsible for the crime and punish them.
Ms Aslan, a psychology student, was kidnapped on Wednesday on her way home. The driver allegedly tried to rape her. She reportedly fought him off with pepper spray, but was then stabbed to death. She was also hit on the head with an iron pipe.
The brutality of the murder caused an outcry across Turkey.
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Thousands of women staged protests in several cities, including Ankara, Istanbul, and Mersin – Ms Aslan’s hometown in southern Turkey. In Istanbul, women activists held two separate protests to show their anger at the murder.
During the day, hundreds gathered behind a banner that read “Enough, we will stop the murder of women!”
In the evening, the crowd got bigger as thousands of women took to the streets.
A young woman, Bulay Dogan, said Ms Aslan’s murder scared her. “I’m afraid, because the same thing could happen to me or my friends. But on the other hand, I’m furious too. How can they [the murder suspects] be so reckless to do something like this?” she asked.
Also at the protests was a gender studies academic who would only give her first name, Zeynep. She thought Ms Aslan’s murder was of a political nature too.
“It is the result of the radical Islamic atmosphere created by the government. The men say that women should be conservative. They think if they are not conservative, they deserve this kind of violence,” she said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has its roots in political Islam and has been in power since 2002.
Women’s rights organisations say violence against women has risen sharply in the last decade.
Last year alone, almost 300 women were killed at the hands of men and more than 100 were raped, according to local reports.
Sevda Bayramoglu from Women for Peace Initiative demanded new legislation to protect women from violence.
“Men kill and rape and torture women. The state, the ‘men’s state’, is protecting them. We expect the parliament to stop this violence,” she said.