Turkish woman files petition for re-arrest of released assailant

Turkish woman files petition for re-arrest of released assailant

Aziz Özen – ISTANBUL
Turkish woman files petition for re-arrest of released assailant A 21-year-old woman who was attacked by a man in Istanbul on the grounds of “wearing a mini skirt during Ramadan” has applied to the prosecutor’s office for her assailant to be re-arrested, after he was released following his testimony at the police station.

On June 14, university student Melisa Sağlam was attacked by a man identified only as Ercan K. as she was getting off a minibus in Istanbul’s Pendik district. The suspect allegedly asked her, “Are you not ashamed to dress this way during Ramadan?” before punching her. After Sağlam fell in the street the assailant continued his journey on the minibus.

Following the incident, Sağlam filed a complaint against her assailant, upon which he was detained three days later on June 17. However, after giving his testimony at the police station Ercan K. was released pending investigation on the same day. 

On June 19, Sağlam submitted a petition to the prosecutor’s office condemning the release of her assailant. 
“We are not the kind of people who want to discredit Ramadan, Islam or defame religion. This person attacked me, harassed me and hit me. Everyone on the minibus watched, including the driver, but no one intervened in the incident,” Sağlam told daily Hürriyet.

“My only wish from the justice system is that an appropriate, dissuasive punishment is given to the assailant. I do not want him to walk around freely because I cannot anymore. I could until now, but since being assaulted I have been unable to go anywhere without my mother. I cannot even get on public transportation,” she added.

“We should protect each other on public transport and on the streets. That does not mean sharing [posts] on Facebook and Twitter taking a stand for someone. It does not mean marching or sending a wreath to a funeral after someone dies. It means taking a stand against attackers from the first assault, before someone dies. Let us stand tall, stand with each other,” she said. 

Sağlam’s lawyer, Nuriye Alsancak, told daily Hürriyet that the incident could not be viewed as an “ordinary” event.

“There is a mentality that criticizes pregnant women for being outside, and that allocates special buses or carriages for women. This incident is a reflection of the same mentality on the streets. Unless we say ‘stop’ to this and raise our voices, there will not be an end to it,” Alsancak said.