People in Turkey are routinely strip searched while being taken into custody over a tweet, visiting family members in prison or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as in a dormitory. This is a humiliating experience, a form of sexual harassment that usually creates too much embarrassment for survivors to speak out in public. Strip searches have increased since the 2013 Gezi protests, and parliament has been made aware of the issue multiple times. In 2018, for example, the Ministry of Justice answered the allegations of strip searches, saying, “We didn’t conduct a search. They (those in custody) stripped naked on their own.”
Over the last couple of weeks, Turkish social media has been rocked by hundreds of women speaking out on video about their own experiences with strip searches. Most of these women are hijabis. Indeed, Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), brought the matter to the public eye in mid-September after thirty college students were taken into custody in Usak province and strip searched.