Women in Istanbul protest, chant ‘Don’t mess with my outfit’

Women in Istanbul protest, chant ‘Don’t mess with my outfit’

Women in Istanbul protest, chant ‘Don’t mess with my outfit’ Women’s rights associations protested on July 30 in Istanbul’s Maçka Democracy Park where a private security guard verbally abused a 24-year-old woman the day before, with women also protesting against the rising number of attacks they face over the way they dress. 

Women shouted slogans, chanting, “Do not mess with my clothes, my shorts, my life” and “Women are powerful together.” People sitting in the park showed their support to the protest with applauses. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Selina Doğan also attended the protest. 

The protest came after Çağla Köse, a 24-year-old designer, was subjected to verbal abuse by a security guard at the Maçka Democracy Park in the Şişli district on July 29. 

Köse told daily Hürriyet that when she went to the park’s toilet at around 5 p.m., the park’s security chief, identified only as Savaş İ., told her, “You cannot wander around this way, you are disturbing people. There are families here.”

“I was in shock all of a sudden. I did not know what to say. I told him, ‘My clothes are none of your business, why are you looking?’ Afterwards, a man, whom I did not know, came and got involved in the argument with the security. He said, ‘Don’t mess with the girl, it is none of your business,’ to which the security personnel responded by saying, ‘In the event of a rape, you say who is going to protect [them],’” she added. 

“Then young people there told him, ‘That is your perception. No one here looks at her that way.’ The discussion continued for a while and then calmed down. And I went back to the place where I was having picnic with my friend,” Köse said.  

But police showed up at the park at around 8 p.m., Köse said. “The security personnel and police were looking at us. Then my friend immediately went up to him and reacted. ‘Our clothes are none of your business, why are you calling the police,’ she said. The police then said, ‘We do not meddle with anyone’s outfits, there is nothing we can do,’ before calming everyone down,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the Şişli Municipality released a statement on its Twitter account on July 30, condemning the incident. “The reaction of a security personnel at Maçka Democracy Park, whose part of it is within our district’s boundaries but whose main responsibility belongs to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, against women’s outfits and the psychological pressure he showed is unacceptable. All colors have lived in Şişli for years, will continue to live arm-in-arm and respect lifestyles,” it said. 

Additionally, Köse told daily Hürriyet that she was very distressed since the incident of the verbal abuse, adding that she was having difficulties sleeping since then. “I will file a lawsuit against the security personnel,” she said. 

The private security guard was suspended from his job on July 31, with Akdeniz Security Services Company CEO Vice President Süleyman Oğuz condemning the incident in a statement. “The incident is not a situation we as an institution approve of. Following the incident, we have launched an investigation against the security personnel Savaş İ.,” he said. 

Köse went to Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse to file a criminal complaint against the man on July 31.