As Me Too gains momentum in Turkey, 62 NGOs stand up for sexually abused women in joint statement

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As more and more Turkish women reveal on social media their memories of sexual assault by men, 62 nongovernmental organizations in Turkey have released a joint statement expressing solidarity with the women and vowing to fight against sexual violence.

A tweet last week by a woman named Leyla Salinger in which she revealed having been sexually abused by famous Turkish author Hasan Ali Toptaş has turned into a Turkish version of the US’s Me Too movement as a growing number of women are writing on social media of similar experiences.

The NGOs that opened a joint text to signature said the women must never feel guilty about exposing their abusers and never give up fighting against violence perpetrated by men.

İbrahim Çolak, one of the Turkish authors who was accused of sexual abuse, committed suicide following the revelations apparently out of feelings of shame.

Çolak’s suicide led some people to put the blame for Çolak’s death on the women who are telling their stories of sexual abuse.

“It has never been easy for women to talk about the violence they were subjected to because we grew up in fear and were taught to remain silent and be ashamed of ourselves [in the wake of such incidents]. We will not remain silent and as we speak up, we will not be the ones who are ashamed. Those who should be held to account are the perpetrators of violence, not the victims,” said the joint statement.

Among the signatories of the statement are the Ankara Bar Association, the Ankara Women’s Platform, the İstanbul Feminist Institute, the Progressive Women’s Council and the Mor Çatı (Purple Roof) Women’s Shelter Foundation.

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