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World#MeToo rocks Turkey's literary world

#MeToo rocks Turkey’s literary world

Published: 22nd Dec 2020 6:17 pm

Ankara: Sexual assault and harassment allegations have shaken Turkey’s literary world, creating a rare #MeToo moment as women break taboos and speak out in the still largely patriarchal country. The online testimonials have led to the suicide of one author who was singled out after allegedly sending a series of lewd text messages to younger women.

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But while born in social media anonymity, the movement has since been joined by well-known voices, marking the first time women have dared to come forward against major authors – and the first time Turkey’s mainstream media have taken notice. It all started with a single tweet.

A user called ‘Leyla Salinger’ shared a video of novelist Hasan Ali Toptas – once dubbed the eastern Franz Kafka – accompanied by a caption reading: “How many of us are waiting for this man to be exposed?” From there, accusations from 20 women mainly on social media against Toptas followed, leading many more to describe the harassment and abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of other male writers.

Moved by the stories, author Pelin Buzluk came forward with her own allegations against Toptas. “I was in shock,” she said, describing a “very frightening moment” in which Toptas “approached and forced” himself on her in 2011. “‘Well, why did you wear that dress?’,” Buzluk said he told her in response.

Toptas’s publishing house Everest dropped him, saying it was “against all kinds of harassment”. He was also stripped of awards he received this year and in 2013.

Another writer, Asli Tohumcu, said author Bora Abdo harassed her, which he denied. “Taking courage from Buzluk, I wanted to show we’re not alone,” she told the Hurriyet. The Iletisim publishing house dropped Abdo after the claims surfaced.

Women have also been encouraged to send their stories to an email address, uykularinkacsin@gmail.com, which means “May you lose sleep”.

While the reputation of some reputable authors has been shaken, none of the allegations have yet led to criminal charges.

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