Many women are boycotting Twitter on Friday over its approach to abuse (TWTR)
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Twitter has been at the centre of a firestorm of criticism this week following its decision to temporarily suspend actress Rose McGowan’s account following her comments about the Harvey Weinstein controversy — and now some women are boycotting the social network in protest.
On Friday, women are being called on to ditch the platform for a day in anger at its approach to speech and abuse. The protest, which is being organised via the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter, is being billed as “a day-long Twitter boycott in protest of women’s voice being silenced.”
Some men are also joining the boycott in solidarity, including “Avengers” actor Mark Ruffalo.
Not everyone agrees with the boycott, however, with some suggesting that it would be more effective to share stories and experiences than to voluntarily go silent.
Following the uproar over McGowan’s suspension, Twitter said it restricted her accounts because she tweeted out someone’s phone number, rather than because of her tweets about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. But the boycott has since become a larger protest over Twitter’s policies and long-standing abuse problem.
Meanwhile, the social network’s Safety account tweeted: “Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”
The murder triggered demonstrations in Ankara on Monday
attempted rape and murder of a young woman has electrified social media
in Turkey - and now hundreds of thousands of women are sharing their
own stories of sexual abuse.
For several days now, one young woman’s tragic story has
gripped the Turkish nation. On Wednesday last week Ozgecan Aslan was
abducted and later murdered, allegedly for standing up to a man who
tried to rape her. According to reports, she pepper-sprayed her
assailant but was later overcome, and beaten to death with an iron bar.
The tragic case has touched a nerve in Turkey, and Aslan’s name has now
appeared more than 4 million times on Twitter.
At the beginning of the week there were street protests over the case. Now the conversation about her death has evolved, and women across the country are using a hashtag - #sendeanlat
- to swap tales of everyday sexual abuse. The phrase translates as
“tell your story”, and has itself been used 800,000 times. “Do you know
how it feels like having to put pants instead skirts on your daughter?” said one tweet using the hashtag, and “The terror when you’re the last on the bus and the driver turns the mirror on u,” read another. Both messages appeared in English thanks to the work of a writer, Tonella Himbeer, who is translating what Turkish women are saying.
There have seemingly been watershed moments like this on
social media in the past in Turkey - when women have spoken up en masse,
for example, over a Minister’s comments about women laughing in public.
But this conversation felt so significant that Himbeer wanted the rest
of the world - or at least the English speaking world - to see what was
happening too. She told BBC Trending that on Sunday she began
translating the tweets, and the hashtag,
so that a wider audience could understand the “horrific” encounters of
Turkish women. “When I went to police after being harassed they told me:
no wonder if you wear that skirt. #tellyourstory,” said one of the translations.
The last decade has seen a sharp rise in the level of
violence against women in Turkey, although part of that may be due to
better reporting of cases. Some in Turkey’s women’s movement feel that
official policy has not helped. Selen Lermioglu from women’s group
Esitiz (“We Are Equal”) told BBC Trending that in her view the
government, led by the AKP party, has encouraged gender stereotypes. In a
conference in November, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said equality
between men and women was “against nature”. “Turkey was already
traditional and patriarchal,” says Lermioglu, “but these messages aren’t
helpful”. She thinks the social media outcry represents the breaking of
a taboo over discussing everyday sexual harassment and abuse in public.
Not everyone agrees with the sentiment behind the campaign.
One female journalist, Sevda Turkusev, a columnist for the
pro-government daily newspaper Yeni Safak, used the #sendeanlat hashtag
to criticize the women, tweeting
“To those women telling the abuses they experienced not to doctors but
on social media: Do you think you are going to be heroes like those on