No matter the area in the world, there will always be men that take issue with the way that women dress. Whether it is criticizing them for dressing too demurely or for dressing too provocatively, women will always face criticism for the choices that they make. It is a dead-end street that boasts no winners.
One Turkish man, however, took his criticisms too far. Abdullah Cakiroglu, a security guard, was caught on CCTV last September attacking 23-year-old nurse Aysegul Terzi on a public bus in Maslak. His main motivation for having attacked her was simply that she was wearing shorts.
The attack happened during the first day of Eid al-Adha, a holiday in which Muslims celebrate the prophet of Abraham. It is a holiday of strength of heart and purity of faith, where one should recognize that they need to open their hearts and share with others. Attacking a woman for wearing shorts fails to fall under either of those.
At first, Terzi claimed she hadn’t heard Cakiroglu’s tirade because she was wearing headphones. He had been heard shouting, “those who wear shorts must die.” He then began to deal physical blows to Terzi, shouting that she had “no right to live” and that “[she was] a devil” before kicking her in the face.
Three men attempted to step in and stop the assault but were unable to keep Cakiroglu from escaping. Terzi, who had suffered facial bruising as a result of the attack, also claimed that the bus driver had refused to take her to a police station or hospital. The bus driver denied it, but Terzi filed a complaint regardless.
“People can embrace others’ faith but they cannot ignore it,” Cakiroglu said during his testimony. “Everything has a proper way. Had she dressed properly, we would not have acted that way. If people wear pants or at least a tracksuit, we would be less aroused.”
“She wore shorts and was sitting in an obscene way with her legs sideways,” he continued. “I thought she disregarded the values of our country and society and she did not show respect for herself and the people around her with her clothing style. My spiritual side took over and I kicked her in the face.”
Cakiroglu was sentenced to three years and ten months in prison for “preventing the practice of freedom of faith, thought and opinion” and for deliberately causing injury, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news.
After the initial attack, Twitter users took to using the hashtag #AyşegülTerzininSesiOlalim to protest the way she had been treated during the incident. “Anyone who calls #AyşegülTerzininSesiOlalim an excuse is responsible. No excuses, let’s act,” wrote one Twitter user, calling for people to mobilize to prevent similar attacks from being normalized.
While the fact that Cakiroglu was sent to prison is a step forward in the sphere of justice, he was not specifically sent to prison for assaulting a woman. The idea that he is not facing backlash for that particular action may leave him open to thinking that he is still allowed to publicly criticize women for their attire, just not attack them.
As long as men are not being publicly denounced for committing similar crimes against women, they will continue to make their opinions known, whether it’s through verbal assaults or through attacks similar to what Cakiroglu did to Terzi. They need to be held publicly accountable for their actions, so that they may no longer get away with their attacks.
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