Monday 23 October 2017

Turkish President ridicules men who wore skirts to protest domestic violence

Men, wearing skirts, marched to protest against domestic violence in central Istanbul
Men, wearing skirts, marched to protest against domestic violence in central Istanbul
Men, wearing skirts, march during a protest against domestic violence in central Istanbul
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Ozgecan Aslan, whose murder has sparked a national debate on violence against women in Turkey

Lizzie Dearden

The President of Turkey has ridiculed men who took to the streets of Istanbul wearing skirts in a women’s rights protest after a woman was murdered defending herself from rape.

“Let them cry out for low-cut [tops] and miniskirts,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a speech in Ankara on Wednesday.

He was speaking at the inauguration of new buildings for a youth charity, where he vowed to “raise generations loyal to their beliefs and history”.

A translation of the speech quotes the President as saying: “You claim to be a man. Why you wear a skirt! What kind of a man you are? You are not a man, you are a terrorist.”

Read More: Violence against women is 'our bleeding wound' says Turkey's president

Mr Erdoğan, who has previously declared it was “against nature” for women and men to be on “an equal footing”, heads a socially conservative government that has been accused of letting women’s rights regress and misogyny flourish.

His condemnation came after hundreds of men wore protests in Istanbul on Saturday to protest the murder of Ozgecan Aslan, a 20-year-old who was killed as she tried to fight off a rapist.

A Facebook page supporting the campaign explained: “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!"

The 20-year-old reportedly resisted a minibus driver’s attempt to rape her in February and was stabbed and beaten with an iron rod during the struggle.

The alleged perpetrator, assisted by his father, burned her body and cut off her hands in an apparent attempt to prevent DNA evidence of the struggle being found under her fingernails.

Read more: Thousands in protests across Turkey after woman was 'killed for resisting rape'

Her murder triggered a huge public debate in Turkey about women’s rights and the link repeatedly made by conservatives between usually Western clothing deemed “provocative” and sexual assault.   

In August last year, for example, a woman stabbed by her ex-husband was reprimanded by judges who claimed she had “provoked” him by wearing leggings.

Mr Erdoğan's speech comes as a former Miss Turkey faces up to two years in prison for social media posts deemed to be critical of him.

An Istanbul prosecutor is reportedly demanding that Merve Büyüksaraç be prosecuted on charges of insulting a public official.

The model was detained last month for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account and denies insulting the President.

She is the latest figure to face trial for insulting Mr Erdogan, amid fears the country is lurching toward authoritarian rule. 

In recent years, Turkey has curbed media freedoms, cracked down on critical social media postings and prosecuted hundreds of people who took part in mass anti-government protests.

Independent News Service

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