Turkey's male population are miniskirt-protesting for gender equality
It may look like an April Fools at first glance on Twitter, but Turkey’s male population have been taking to the streets dressed in mini skirts to protest for women’s rights in the country.
In fact, it’s not just mini skirts: Floral midis, denim pencil skirts and kilts have all been out on display over recent weeks. You may be forgiven for mistaking the latest images from the streets of Istanbul as a latest ‘street style’ snapshot from the city. Sadly, the reality is a little more upsetting.
The miniskirt-walkout is actually in response to the recent brutal death of a young girl that has captured the hearts and minds – not just of Turkey’s female population – but of its men too.
20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan was beaten and stabbed to death after failing to defend herself against a bus driver who tried to rape her. The details of the attack have – and rightly so – shocked the nation.
What started as a social media outpouring by women has now gathered pace, crossing both geographical borders and gender lines. According to BBC News, more than 6 million people have tweeted the woman’s name encouraging countless accounts of sexual abuse to be shared on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #sendeanlat (meaning ‘tell your story’).
Men in neighbouring Azerbaijan soon picked up on the story and began to respond to the campaign in an entirely different way, tweeting images of themselves wearing skirts using the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy (meaning ‘wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan’).
Last weekend hundreds of men took to the streets of Istanbul in their skirts, turning this online protest into a physical movement on the ground.
In a country where women’s rights have continually been found low on the agenda, this latest global campaign from equally outraged men is a new and promising development. Only earlier this month, Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan described violence against women as a ‘bleeding wound’ in the country, and although recent statistics in the region are difficult to pinpoint, few deny that violence against women is rising rapidly.
It seems fitting that Emma Watson’s latest UN Women campaign urges all men to join forces with women worldwide to work towards female equality – this week she even thanked Steve Carell for wearing #HeForShe cufflinks to the Oscars.
Let’s hope this recent display of solidarity from men in Turkey and Azerbaijan becomes a global movement for change.