The “Campus Witches” a feminist group at the Ankara University Faculty of Languages, History and Geography, has suddenly garnered newfound popularity after video footage showing female students from the group physically assaulting a male student and accusing him of sexual abuse went viral.
As the video posted on the Campus Witches’ Facebook page on March 29 shows, security officers came to rescue the male student after members of the group began to physically assault him.
Another student addressed the crowd watching the scene, elaborating on the reason for the reaction to the male student, identified as E.Ç.
The group accused him of writing insulting messages addressed to his ex-girlfriend on his Twitter account and sexually assaulting her. The group also hung printouts of the messages.
“What did I do? Explain it to me,” the male student said. “We still have the messages you’ve sent on the phone,” the group replied.
The incident ended after the officers took E.Ç. away, while the remaining students applauded the group.
Three students from the Campus Witches, Gözde Çelik, Melike Avcı and Burçin Tekdemir, told daily Cumhuriyet they had warned E.Ç. before the beating but he ignored it.
“We waited for him to come to the campus. Since he ignored the verbal warnings, we beat him up,” Çelik said, while emphasizing they used their right of self-defense against the male student.
Avcı noted students at the university were now curious about the incident.
“They saw us during the beating and now people ask if it was us who beat [him] up. We hung photos of E.Ç. and some of the people who saw the photos said the same student sexually assaulted their friends. E.Ç. is a person who harasses women systematically. We punished him. He deserved it” Avcı said.
“The incident at the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography was a successful example of self-defense,” said Tekdemir, who is a student at Dumlupınar University.
“We don’t characterize self-defense over violence only. Exposing someone is also self-defense. We cannot ignore the fact that women are having a hard time walking in the streets.”
The Campus Witches were inspired by two women who “had to kill” men who assaulted them, Çelik said, noting they didn’t advocate killing.
“Our issue is the male-dominated system’s reflection on men,” Çelik added.
Avcı elaborated on the use of acts of violence, saying the beating was a situation which turned the group into a gang.
“Beating is the last stage. Until that point, we’ve been making awareness raising efforts for both women and men. Women should be aware of the fact that they are crushed by the male-dominated system and should find the courage to object to it” Çelik said.
A similar incident happened last year in November at Akdeniz University, where a group of feminist students broke into a class in order to find an alleged sexual abuser. The male student, identified as S.D., was found in the cafeteria and exposed by the feminists.
S.D. later tried to commit suicide and was taken to the hospital.