Murder of Özgecan Aslan

Özgecan Aslan
Ozgecan Aslan.jpg
Born(1995-10-22)22 October 1995
Died11 February 2015(2015-02-11) (aged 19)
Near Tarsus, Turkey
Cause of deathHomicide by stabbing and beating
Body discoveredNear Çamalan, Tarsus
Resting placeTarsus
OccupationStudent
Known forVictim of murder and attempted rape

Özgecan Aslan (22 October 1995[1] – 11 February 2015) was a Turkish university student who was murdered while resisting attempted rape on 11 February 2015 on a minibus in Mersin, Turkey.[2] Her burnt body was discovered on 13 February. The murder was committed by minibus driver Ahmet Suphi Altındöken, and his father Necmettin Altındöken and friend Fatih Gökçe were accomplices in covering up the murder.[3] All perpetrators were handed aggravated life sentences without the possibility of parole.[3]

The murder caused nationwide outrage and sparked protests across the country on the following days.[4] Thousands of protesters took to the streets in several provinces, with some criticizing the government for its "insufficient response" and alleged normalization of the rape of non-conservative women. The protests were described as the first mass movement for Turkish women.[5] It also provoked calls for reforms to combat violence against women more effectively. The case received great attention on social media and prompted women to share their experiences of harassment, with February 16 being dubbed as "Black Monday" due to protests. The murder was described as a catalyst for women to speak out about their long-withheld suffering, but the Guardian expected also a rift between women who defend silence and patriarchal status quo and those refusing to keep quiet.[6]

Background

Özgecan was born into a poor Alevi Kurdish family, who traced their origins to Tunceli.[7] She was a first-year psychology student in the Çağ University in Tarsus. She was born and raised in Mersin, and wanted to study psychology, for which she had developed a strong passion while she was studying at the tourism high school. Her parents were supportive of her, with her mother returning to the workforce in order to fund her education, to augment the 50% scholarship she had earned. Her father is a graphic designer, but he lacked a permanent job at the time of the murder, while her mother had previously retired from a cargo company. She was also planning to work at a hotel in Northern Cyprus during the summer to help with her fees. She had an elder sister who was studying opera and singing in Adana; Özgecan was also described as an avid opera listener and reader.[1][8]

The perpetrator's father, who assisted him, hailed from a wealthy family in Tarsus and was at one time a jeweller. However, he had since gone bankrupt and started to work with his son as a minibus driver. He had previous records of smuggling.[9] The perpetrator's wife (married to him five years prior to the murder) claimed that he had continuously inflicted violence on her, and that he had forced her to withdraw her suit for divorce a few months before the incident as he allegedly had threatened to kill her and their son.[10]

A friend of Özgecan claimed that they had been afraid to use the minibuses in the area, and that the drivers and some passengers had stared at them through mirrors and windows whenever they left the bus several times before the incident.[11]