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Protests Across Turkey Denounce Violence Against Women After Student's Brutal Murder

The gruesome killing and attempted rape of a 20-year-old university student is just tip of the iceberg in Turkey's plague of violence against women.

by Meredith Hoffman
Feb 15 2015, 8:25pm

Photo via YouTube/An?l Çizmecio?lu

Protests have broken out across Turkey after the brutal murder of a 20-year-old woman. The motive in the gruesome killing has not been confirmed, but several reports have said she was stabbed and bludgeoned to death after she resisted an attempted rape.

The woman, Ozgecan Aslan, was allegedly kidnapped by a minibus driver on her way home from school on Wednesday. According to Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman, the 50-year-old bus driver and a 20-year-old accomplice confessed to the crime after police searched their vehicle and found blood. They reportedly killed Aslan and burned her body before hiding it in a stream near the village of Camalan in southern Turkey.

Aslan, a university student who was studying psychology, used pepper spray to defend herself from the bus driver's attempted rape before he allegedly stabbed her and hit over the head with an iron pipe, according to the BBC.

A total of three men — the minibus driver, his father, and a friend — have been arrested.

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The brutal murder incited rallies throughout the country, including a daytime demonstration in Istanbul where hundreds of women gathered behind a banner that read, "Enough! We will stop the murder of women."

Hundreds of women also defied orders from a local imam and carried Aslan's coffin at funeral Saturday, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Aslan's devastated mother told Hurriyet the perpetrators should be "executed" and "tortured."

"Ozgecan had a wonderful heart, she would work hard, help everyone. I cannot accept that she was massacred when she took a minibus to come home," the mother, Songul Aslan, said. "Is my daughter's only mistake to get on a minibus to come home?"

The crime was the tip of the iceberg in Turkey's plague of violence against women. The Daily Beast reported on a recent study that found violence affects about 40 percent of Turkey's female population.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared in a speech in November that "women are not equal to men," and claimed that Islam had prescribed a particular role for females in society.

"Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood," Erdogan said, adding that women cannot be treated the same as men because of their "delicate nature."

"Some people can understand this, while others can't," the president said. "You cannot explain this to feminists because they don't accept the concept of motherhood."

Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman