Turkish Men Marched In Miniskirts For Women’s Rights Over The Weekend

Last week, a Turkish university student named Ozgecan Aslan was viciously murdered at the hands of a bus driver she’d trusted to get her safely home. The 20-year-old reportedly fought against a sexual assault before the driver killed her. He doused Aslan in gasoline, burned her body, and dumped her into a riverbed. Three suspects have been arrested in association with the murder. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to do everything he can to ensure they are justly punished, but women across the country and world still feel at risk every day, and Turkish citizens have had enough. As Aslan’s family held a funeral in her hometown on Saturday, protestors demonstrated in various Turkish cities, demanding a society in which women don’t regularly fear for their lives and safety.

Women’s rights marches in Istanbul this weekend were accompanied by a flood of Twitter posts featuring pictures of women wearing all black in honor of Aslan. Things went a step further when men began posting pictures of themselves wearing skirts to demonstrate that a woman’s clothing choice is no excuse for sexual assault. The #ozgecanicinminietekgiy (“miniskirts for Ozgecan”) movement made its way onto the streets, with some men marching in skirts belonging to their mothers, friends and girlfriends.

Lawyer and activist Hulya Gulbahar told CNN the protest marks “the first time women’s rights have been so widely endorsed in Turkey.” Others have doubted that the skirts will make a major impact, but what’s important is that Aslan’s murder has thousands, if not millions, of people seriously considering the impact their political stances have on women’s safety. I find the skirt movement to be a powerful show of support, but that could simply be because imagery of people marching for women’s rights always makes me emotional, skirts or not. It’s a little concerning that gender norms are so powerful in our world that a man in a skirt is considered this revolutionary, or that the passionate participation of men in a movement that’s thought of as being solely for women (though in reality preventing violence against women benefits everyone) is what it takes to get the world to really pay attention, but that’s another conversation. I’d rather focus on the fact that I’m moved at the footage of thousands of protestors, both male and female, showing up for Aslan and for women everywhere. Her death just may lead to positive policy changes, and there’s no better way to honor her horrific, unfair passing than that. A petition asking that Aslan’s murderers be fully punished, that institutions promote gender equality, and that women’s rights policies be implemented has almost 1,000,000 signatures if you’d like to sign it.

[CNN] [Image via Twitter]