Why These Men Are Wearing Miniskirts

Photo: Courtesy of @ikkris Instagram.
We're of the firm belief that the importance of fashion extends far beyond the pieces hanging in your closet. But, sometimes, it takes a major movement to really remind us just how powerful clothing can be. Case in point: The recent social media campaign in Turkey, which uses miniskirts as a symbol of protest against violence toward women. The movement was sparked after a 20-year-old Turkish university student named Ozgecan Aslan was brutally murdered after she fended off sexual assaults from a bus driver. She was wearing a skirt at the time. 

Shortly after news of the killing spread on social media (MSNBC reports that the hashtag #OzgecanAslan has been Tweeted more than three million times), last week group of men decided to launch a viral campaign of their own. They took to Twitter and Instagram, posting photos of themselves in miniskirts with the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy (which, according to CNN, translates to "Wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan"). 
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Photo: Courtesy of @londra_beyfendisi Instagram.

But, they're also moving this protest offline as well, marching throughout Istanbul and nearby cities as a show of solidarity. As Turkish lawyer and activist Hulya Gulbahar told CNN, "a short skirt is not an excuse for rape." Amen. 

Aslan's death is only the latest incident of violence toward women in Turkey. According to The New York Times, the Muslim country's culture is one that historically has treated women like second-class citizens. Murders and rapes are rarely investigated, and honor killings (in which a woman is murdered after being raped, or after being accused of indecency) often occur without punishment. As Ipek Bozkurt, an attorney in Istanbul, told The New York Times, "Even the existing laws in Turkey are not enforced in practice because judges don't care about women." Although women's rights groups have been working for decades to make real legislative changes, women still remain at risk. Over 300 Turkish women were murdered last year (and January 2015 saw 27 murders alone).  

These statistics, while harrowing, are what make Aslan's legacy all the more important. By raising global awareness through social media and receiving international press, protestors are taking crucial baby steps toward change. The New York Times reports that a pair recent bills presented by female legislators were ignored when first proposed. But now, thanks to the recent global attention placed on Turkey due to the Aslan campaign, they're being reconsidered. Even the smallest act — or item of clothing — can be the start of progress, so here's hoping this is only the beginning. 
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