Anger grows in Turkey over student’s killing

ISTANBUL - Anger mounted in Turkey on Monday over the murder and attempted rape of a 20-year-old female student by a bus driver, as a court placed the suspected killer in pre-trial detention.
The killing of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, has become a rallying cause for activists campaigning to end the country’s endemic levels of violence against women, with thousands taking to the streets to protest over the weekend.
Several top officials even suggested discussions on restoring the death penalty for the perpetrator and his two accomplices. Turkish women meanwhile shared stories of harassment and violence under the viral Twitter hashtag #sendeanlat (you tell your story).  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who enraged many Turkish women in November by declaring they were not equal to men, said the guilty deserved “the most severe punishment”.
“Violence against women is an open wound on our society,” he said in a televised speech in Ankara.
“I hope the awareness that has been raised with the death of Ozgecan will be the beginning of a new era,” he added.
Erdogan’s two daughters, Sumeyye Erdogan and Esra Albayrak, earlier paid a joint visit to the grieving family of the victim at her home in southern Turkey.
A court in the city of Tarsus, in the southern Mersin region, remanded in custody pending trial suspected murderer Ahmet Suphi Altindoken and suspected accomplices, his father Necmettin Altindoken and Fatih Gokce, the official Anatolia news agency reported.
Reports said Aslan on Wednesday evening was the only passenger left in a minibus driven by Ahmet Suphi Altindoken, 26, who changed the route of the bus when the other passengers got off, and attempted to rape her.
She tried to resist by using pepper spray but he then stabbed and clubbed her to death.
The driver then returned to Tarsus to find his father, 50, and a friend to help him dispose of the body.
They burned the body in a wooded area in a bid to hide the evidence but the corpse was found by police on Friday.
She was then laid to rest, the coffin borne only by women, on Saturday, February 14, Valentine’s Day.
According to the Hurriyet daily, Altindoken confessed to the murder, saying he had stabbed Aslan and then struck the fatal blows with a crowbar after seeing she was not yet dead.
Turkey’s Family and Social Minister Aysenur Islam, the only woman in the cabinet, said after visiting the victim’s family that capital punishment should be considered for the perpetrators.
“Not as a minister, but as a mother and woman, I think punishment for such crimes can be the death sentence... We can put it on our agenda,” she was quoted as saying by Anatolia.
Turkey in 2004 abolished the death penalty, a key requisite for its membership of the European Union.
Turkey’s parliament speaker Cemil Cicek said the issue could be discussed “in line with our international obligations”.
EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir indicated he did not favour reimposing the death penalty, saying it was important to separate personal emotions and actions on a state level.
But he added: “If something like this had happened to my daughter I would take a gun and I would punish (the attacker) myself.”
Turkey is already battling shocking levels of violence against women. According to the Platform to Stop Violence Against Women activist group, 294 women were killed by men in 2014.
Critics claim that the situation is not helped by the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdogan’s November statement that women were not equal to men.
Many prominent Turkish women took part in the #sendeanlat, with superstar actress Beren Saat detailing the abuse she had received from her youth up to her acting career.
Women were also posting pictures of themselves wearing black under the hashtag #Ozgecanicinsiyahgiy (wear black for Ozgecan)
Meanwhile, there was outrage on social media against singer Nihat Dogan for a comment on Twitter about “girls wearing miniskirts and getting naked.” Amid an outcry, he was thrown out of the Turkish edition of the game show “Survivor”.

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