On Feb. 13, police discovered the burned body of Ozgecan Aslan in a riverbed in the Turkish city of Mersin. She was reportedly killed fighting off a rapist.
Three men – a minibus driver, his father and a friend – are under arrest in connection with her death and the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has promised to hunt down and punish those responsible for the crime.
Aslan, a psychology student, was kidnapped on Wednesday on her way home. The driver allegedly tried to rape her and she reportedly fought him off with pepper spray, but was hit on the head with an iron pipe and stabbed to death.
Thousands of women staged protests in several cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Mersin, Aslan's hometown in southern Turkey.
According to women’s rights activist Sertaç Sehlikoglu, Turkish cases of rape, murder and abuse of women increased a staggering 1,400 percent between 2004 and 2011. Local media reports that 281 women in Turkey died violent deaths last year alone.
Turkey’s first three rape crisis centers opened only in 2010 at The German Hospital in Taksim, the Vatan Hospital in the Aksaray neighborhood and the Kadiköy Hospital in Kadiköy.
This is nothing short of epidemic. Some believe Turkey’s increasingly conservative and religious government has created a victim-blaming environment, where if women fail to dress and act according to certain strictures, they deserve whatever crimes may be committed against them. Women are also reluctant to report such crimes.
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The crisis centers aid in eliminating some of the victims’ feelings of shame and the social pressure they face under such circumstances but the problem is far from being under control.