Dozens of Turkish women’s organisations issue statement backing latest #MeToo movement

A series of tweets exposing years-long sexual harassment by Turkish writer Hasan Ali Toptaş have sparked a “#MeToo movement” in Turkey’s literary world. 

Over the past two weeks, women have taken to social media to share examples of sexual harassment they were subjected to numerous male writers. The accounts have been shared on Twitter with the tag UykularınızKaçsın (May you lose sleep).

Almost 20 women have come forward to accuse Toptaş alone of assault and sexual harassment.

On Monday, 62 women's organisations issued a joint statement, saying they would not remain silent on sexual harassment. 

The statement said that the names of many perpetrators have been revealed one by one, in a movement sparked by anonymous Twitter user @laylasalinger, who posted about Toptaş on Dec. 8. Many other women followed suit, sharing their stories of harassment and assault.

Last week,  a Turkish writer, who has also accused by sexual harassment, committed suicide.

“I did not prepare myself for such an ending. I am ashamed,’’ 51-year-old İbrahim Çolak said in a Twitter post just before hanging himself in his Ankara home.

Twitter user @laylasalinger has come under attack for causing the author to take his own life.

“Our friend Leyla Salinger was targeted by hundreds of accounts as if she were responsible for this person's suicide," said the statement.

“We all know that movements of rebellion against harassment by women have always tried to be suppressed and discredited by different methods by the patriarchal order. This ‘lynching campaign’ is a way for the patriarchy, which is panicking in the face of the rebellion of women from all walks of life, to command women who raise the voice of the rebellion, to keep silent.’”

“Women will shout thousands of times that if there is harassment, the responsible person is primarily the abuser and those who stand with the abuser, the judicial practice of exonerating the perpetrators,’’ the statement said. “We will not blame ourselves for saying out loud the harassment we have been subjected to, today we will be on the side of every woman who does not remain silent in the face of male violence, and we will never back down from our struggle.’’

Dozens of feminist and women’s organisations have signed the statement.

The We Are Here initiative, created by female photographers, also signed the statement, expressing solidarity with women who expose sexual violence.

“It has never been easy for women to explain the violence they experienced. Because for centuries we have been raised with fear, trained to be silent and ashamed. We will not be silent and we will no longer be ashamed as we speak and reveal... the one who needs to be held accountable should not be the victim, but the perpetrator,’’ the group said.