Men throughout Turkey and neighboring Azerbaijan are tweeting images of themselves in miniskirts to protest the death of a young woman who was murdered after fighting off a sexual assault by a minibus driver.
The brutal death Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old student who fought off an attempted rape before her body was burned and dumped in a riverbed, provoked a widespread reaction on social media and spurred Turks everywhere to protest violence against women.
On Wednesday, a group of men in Azerbaijan are believed to have started the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy, which translates to “wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan.” The hashtag went viral and thousands of men from Azerbaijan and Turkey have since tweeted out images of themselves wearing skirts in honor of women’s (and Scottish men’s?) rights.
A Facebook page supporting the campaign explains, “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!”
On Saturday the protest went from the internet to the streets as hundreds gathered in dresses, skirts and miniskirts to march through Istanbul in solidarity with women who have been protesting violence against women since the recent murder of Ozgecan Aslan.
Prominent Turkish lawyer and activist Hulya Gulbahar said the skirt protest is “very effective” and 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.’ But society didn’t want to hear these voices. People try to find excuses for rapes and killing. 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.”
Women’s rights in Turkey don’t exactly have a stellar rep. Reported sexual and physical violence against women in Turkey has risen 14-fold since 2002. Just last summer a Turkish court ruled that a woman who was attacked and wounded with a knife by her ex-husband had “provoked” him by wearing leggings. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hasn’t been much help tackling the issue, declaring last year that he doesn’t believe in men and women’s equality. So if Turkish men have to take to the streets dressed in miniskirts to drive the point home, then they might as well look good doing it: