ISTANBUL (AP) — About 15,000 people marched in a southern Turkish city Wednesday in remembrance of a student whose murder after an attempted rape last week has galvanized public outrage about violence against women.
Twenty-year-old Ozgecan Aslan's body was found Friday burned in a riverbed. She was last seen two days earlier on a minibus in Mersin, where the demonstrators gathered Wednesday. Turkish media has reported that the minibus driver, Suphi Altindoken, later confessed that he killed her and mutilated her body. He was arrested along with his father and one other man.
The case has led to mass demonstrations, an outpouring of anger on social media and allegations that the ruling Justice and Development Party has not done enough to protect women.
The protesters marched near Cag University in Mersin, where Aslan was a psychology student. According to Turkey's private DHA news agency, they carried banners that said "Rape is a crime against humanity," ''Did you hear Özge's scream?" Others read "Say 'stop' to murders of women" and "We are not mourning but revolting."
The case has become a rallying cry for action to protect women, and demonstrators also massed in Turkish cities in recent days.
Elif Logoglu, who heads the non-profit Women's Movement Association, said the case has crystalized fears that women feel in Turkey.
"Not only was she attacked, she was then burnt. This hurt us all," she says. "We hope that her case may be a turning point."
The issue has become politically charged. Many of the demonstrators argue the government has been lenient on sentencing for domestic violence and sex crimes. Women's rights groups have criticized skeptical comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about gender equality and his suggestions that women should have many children.
Erdogan has pledged to follow the trial personally and said that he would meet with the country's justice minister to encourage prosecutors to seek the stiffest possible penalty for the perpetrator and his alleged accomplices.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.
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