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Monday, February 16, 2015

Tarkan Joins Rally Cry for Women

Turkish music artist Tarkan has posted a message about his "shame" over the treatment of women in Turkey today, as thousands rally across the country in response to the brutal killing of a 20-year-old psychology student.

Female student Özgecan Aslan was studying at Çağ University in Mersin, when she was murdered on her way home as she resisted being raped on 11 February. Stabbed to death, her body was burned in an attempt to cover up the crime.

With growing public outrage over the senseless killing, women all over Turkey are organising protests claiming this is not just another criminal incident, but the result of a systematic misogynist state policy. Celebrities have also taken up the cause, chief amongst them being female-favourite Tarkan.

UPDATES: Tarkan message in British newspaper >>
Tarkan reminds violence must stop (2017) >>

The popular singer is well-known for his support over women's issues. He took the opportunity to condemn violence against women - especially domestic violence - on his social media channels for International Women's Day on 8 March last year and in 2013.

In a Facebook message posted earlier this morning, Tarkan wrote that "Today I, too, dressed in black for Özgecan Aslan." By using the words "dressed in black", the singer was not only saying he mourned her death, but that he was taking part in a meme trending online where people are posting selfies wearing black in protest.

UPDATE: Turkish men wear skirts to protest murder >>

In a post that was liked over 50,000 times in four hours, he went on to say:

The more I witness the violence and murder aimed at women in this country, the more I ache and feel ashamed of being a man... Violence towards women is Turkey's greatest shame and only the law can save Turkey... I call to the government and officials... stop closing your eyes to the violence and murder subjected on our women. Stop this now with serious penalties and laws... What are you waiting for? More women to be murdered?"

Perhaps just as moving was an appeal from the murdered girl's father Mehmet Aslan - not to persecute those responsible for his daughter's death but to allow the law to prosecute them instead.

Showing great composure and dignity, "We have no other way out but through love. Don't brutalise those who did this gruesome thing, let them face their punishment in a court of law.

"God help their parents, too," he was reported to say.

Sliding Backward On Women's Rights

In Turkey today, as the country battles for a new identity, the protection of women's rights is seen as a cry against its increasing Islamisation and the shift away from its founding roots.

When the country was founded on principles of secularism after the First World War, the women of Turkey gained voting rights before many in Europe in 1935, enjoying equal status under the law incomparable to other Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Again in the eighties and nineties, a burgeoning women's movement emerged in Turkey as Tarkan was growing up, leading to protests against gender-based violence and the creation of new human rights groups. But the situation for Turkish women remains grim.

Rates of violence against women, some of the worst in all of Europe, doubled from 2008 to 2012, according to the parliamentary Human Rights Commission.

As the rising trend of violence shows, Turkey still has a long way to go in adequately safeguarding the rights of women across the country.

<< Tarkan's Final Farewell | Tarkan News Index | Tarkan in The Telegraph >>

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