Özgecan Aslan

Kemal Ördek: ’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister Islam

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered.

Source: Kemal Ördek, “Su Testisi Tecavüz ve Bakan İslam’a Bir Soru” (“’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister İslam”), bianet.org, 17 July 2015, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/toplumsal-cinsiyet/166083-su-testisi-tecavuz-ve-bakan-islam-a-bir-soru

I’m writing as a rape victim.

I’m writing as a theft, threat, and insult victim.

I’m writing as a trans and as a sex worker.

I’m writing as a rights activist.

I’m writing as someone who now thinks twice before going out.

I break out in a cold sweat; I tense up. I can’t do a thing without someone by me. For the last twelve days, it is as if I’ve been under house arrest. Just yesterday, I saw one of my attackers when I was out with my friends; I simply ran back home. It is as if they are everywhere. I try to stay away from people, but they are out and about. This is what they call justice.

Özgecan comes to my mind. Everyone cried for her and mourned her loss. They took Özgecan away from us, just like with all the other women they took away from us. An otherwise silent Turkey stood up for her, took to the streets, ached, trembled. We trembled.

With Özgecan, we relived a familiar story. We remembered all the sex workers and trans people who have been raped and killed for all these years.

Just yesterday, the entire country was startled when Münevver Karabulut was murdered by decapitation. Only a week later, when a trans sex worker was found in a trash can with her head cut off, everyone who had stood up for Münevver disappeared. Trans women and sex workers were left alone in a country of murders by decapitation.

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered. In all likelihood, there would not be any reaction if I weren’t a well-known rights activist.

Trans people, sex workers, the other women, the anonymous women whose lives are tested by violence, rape, and murder are also raped by silence. In the back streets, in invisible streets, in those “deserved” lives, rape occur every night. Because those women live the lives they “deserve.” Because those who “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Because they deserve rape and death is written in their fate.

We have a Minister of Family and Social Policies, whose faint voice we hear after every case of rape and death. She is someone who disappears, becomes quiet, and shrugs when the issue is trans women and sex workers. She is someone who is complicit in the silence that rapes us…

I have a question for Minister İslam:

Dear Minister: I’m a trans and a sex worker, and I was raped. I was robbed, threatened, and insulted. I was mistreated when I called the police for protection from the violence that I suffered. One of your officers told me, “but you weren’t raped.” Another one lamented that, “this Tribe of Lot isn’t extinct yet.”

I am thankful that I am alive. What I do can’t be called living, but still. My friends advise me to look on the bright side and be thankful that I am alive.

Dear Minister: you are everybody’s minister, is that right? This “everybody” includes trans people and sex workers too, right? If your answer is yes, I ask, why are you silent about what happened to me? The investigations are ongoing and you’re still silent. If a lawsuit begins, are you going to stand by me? Are you going to get involved in it? Are you going to stand by a trans, sex worker, rights activist who was raped and brutalized?

Or am I, are we, going to be considered as people who “deserve” what happens to them? When one of us is killed tomorrow, will there be only 2-3 people to say a final goodbye? Are we, the members of the Tribe of Lot as some of you say, going to continue to be “disciplined” by violence, rape, and murder?

Dear Minister, is your silence fair? We may not be women in your eyes; we may be “immoral.” But are we not human either? Are your “conservatism” and your “religious and human values” silent in the face of violence?

I, your citizen, a trans, a sex worker, a rights activist, a victim… When were we made to be so lonely?

Dear Minister, I invite you, your Ministry, and your government to stand by me. I keep hoping for the faint possibility. If you take a step, it will send a message to rapists.

Before we die again…

Universities to adopt new ‘Özgecan Aslan Prevention’ act

After evaluating the experience of university student Özgecan Aslan, The Council of Higher Education (YÖK) has decided that universities should implement regulatory cautions for the security of girl [sic] university students.

Source: “Üniversitelere ‘Özgecan Aslan önlemi’ getiriliyor” (“Universities to adopt new ‘Özgecan Aslan Prevention’ act”), Çağdaş Ses, 30 May 2015, http://www.cagdasses.com/guncel/14718/universitelere-ozgecan-aslan-onlemi-getiriliyor

After evaluating the experience of university student Özgecan Aslan [murdered, burned, and dismembered on 11 February 2015 allegedly by minibus driver who tried to rape her and two accomplices], The Council of Higher Education (YÖK) has decided that universities should implement regulatory cautions for girl [sic] university students’ security. Accordingly, universities, campuses, and lecture halls will be planned, illuminated, and equipped with communication means with an eye towards the security of especially girl [sic] students.

Cooperation will be established with the Agency of Dormitories and Debt of the Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure that new dormitories to be built specifically for girl [sic] students will be near or inside university campuses.

University presidents will take necessary precautions to ensure safe transportation to university campuses in cooperation with the local administrations.

Gender equality courses

The Council of Higher Education reviewed the results of the gender equality courses in the “University Workshop for Gender Equality Sensitivity” report. It has been decided that:

  • Universities will either schedule a semesterly scientific event or a “Gender Equality” course will be taught in higher education programs, with the same or a different title, in the same conceptual field, in accordance with the decision taken by the authorized body of the university.
  • Students as well as professors will be consulted regarding the course content in cases where this course is included in the [academic] program.
  • In cases where subject matter experts to teach the course cannot be located, the course may be offered as an online e-course as part of formal education.
  • The structure in the Health, Culture, and Sport Administrations will be rendered able to provide medical and psychological support in collaboration with Women’s Problems [sic] Studies [i.e. Women’s Studies -Trans.] and Application Centers [i.e. Women’s Centers -Trans.] on the basis of accessibility, confidentiality, and safety in relation to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  • Educational efforts for sexual harassment and sexual assault awareness will be executed.
  • New arrangements will be made in disciplinary bylaws regarding behaviors [sic] such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, and mobbing.
  • A “Unit on Women’s Studies and Problems in Academia” will be established to study preventive measures against problems that are encountered, to strengthen existing statutes, and to evaluate cases such as harassment, mobbing, and sexual assault against female faculty.