A terrible thing happened to this 20-year-old woman. They're trying to let the whole world know.

There's a serious message behind that skirt.

What can people do when terrible things happen and the law doesn't respond?

Trigger warning: Descriptions of violence against women follow.


They can put on skirts and get out in the streets!


Turkey has a problem. A big problem.

Most recently, this problem claimed the life of 20-year-old Özgecan Aslan.

She was the last person on a minibus traveling across the city of Mersin in southern Turkey on Feb. 11. The young student never made it home. It's believed that the driver attempted to rape her, and when she fought back and used pepper spray, he murdered her. With the help of his father and a friend, he attempted to hide DNA evidence by cutting off her hands and burning her body.

Özgecan's murder is just one among many.

23 Turkish women were killed in incidents of domestic violence in February 2015 alone.

300 women were murdered there last year.

But these killings receive little media or political attention. What's worse, the criminals do not pay.

Turkish men, literally, get away with murder.

Although some laws on the books in Turkey protect women, loopholes allow judges (usually male) to regularly reduce sentences for perpetrators.

Murderers of women are not fully prosecuted for their crimes.

In fact, women are routinely accused of being responsible for the crimes against them. In 2009, after a 17-year-old girl was found stabbed to death and dismembered in a trash can, the Turkish prime minister at the time referred to a Turkish proverb: "If a girl is left unattended by her family, she will run away either to a drummer or a trumpeter."

Ms. Aslan's death rallied crowds of protesters in cities across the country in February.

The hashtag #OzgecanAslan was tweeted more than 3 million times, and an online petition calling for harsh punishment against her attackers gathered almost 1 million signatures.

The lack of legal prosecution is just one part of the problem.

Society does not view Turkish women as equal citizens, as individuals with the same rights as men.

Protesters showed their legs as a statement against the lax prosecution of violent perpetrators — but also against negative cultural attitudes toward women in Turkey.

They also wanted women in Turkey to know that they stand in solidarity with them.

Like domestic violence everywhere, the problem needs to be fought at every level. And no one should look the other way.

Recently, female lawmakers introduced bills that would remove the ability of judges to reduce the sentences of men convicted of violence against women. At first, they were ignored, but now they are being reconsidered.

Clearly, if lawmakers really stand by their commitment to combat violence against women in Turkey, they will pass these laws.

We stand with our women! Share this to show your support for the rights of women to feel safe no matter where they live.

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