Like any shocking crime, the violent physical assault and death of German university student Tugce Albayrak outside of a McDonald’s restaurant near Frankfurt has quickly made its way into headlines.

If you have been following the extensive news coverage, you are now familiar with the case.

On November 15, Albayrak stepped up to defend two unknown teenage girls, who were being sexually harassed by a group of men inside the fast food joint. The attackers were asked to leave the restaurant. Shortly after, they confronted Albayrak in the parking lot, striking the young woman in the head.

Sadly, this ill-fated heroine suffered horrific injuries after the attack. After never regaining consciousness and slipping into a coma as a result of the attack, BBC reports that she died in hospital on November 28.

Despite the fact that an entire culture and language would have separated us, it frightens me to think that Tugce Albayrak and I could have been friends.

At 23 years old, we were the same age, peers separately by merely an ocean in today’s digital universe. Sadly, Albayrak’s 23rd and final birthday was on the day that she was taken off life support by her family.

Looking at photos of the slim, dark-eyed young woman, I find myself wondering who Albayrak was as a person. Like anyone who passes away tragically young, her story exists in her sudden death and not in her short lifetime. The video of her attack has been published, discussed, re-published and discussed again. reports that she had an eventual goal of becoming a high-school teacher. She was a student at Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. I am sure she knew the long hours, ups and downs and hard work of education. She clearly knew bravery, as few women would have stepped up for the frightened teens she noticed that night.

Perhaps, we would have met, if we happened to share the same space at the same time, as international friendships sometimes do. Would the haunting dark eyes from her photos have snapped at me across a room in lively competition? On the other hand, would she have fit into my vibrant, quirky circle of female friends?

Had Albayrak and I lived in the same city, I may have encountered her at some point randomly. Perhaps we would have exchanged faint smiles on the subway, accidentally stepped on each other’s toes on a dance floor, smiled at each other after an introduction from mutual friends. 

Other than her untimely end, she could have been just another girl. Her death is a personal loss for young women everywhere, the loss of a fellow feminist, a potential friend and possible colleague. The world is tiny, after all. Who knows who she could have met? 

 Sadly, Tugce Albayrak and I can never be friends now. While an ocean can’t separate anyone in the age of social media, life and death certainly can. One of us is here penning this tale. The other one is the story herself, a victim of violence, 23 years old forever.

Photo Credits: Scientists Say on Twitter 



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