Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements regarding his worries about mixed-sex housing for students started a new wave of arguments within the country, raising social tension and anger among the young. PM Erdogan defended his statement, saying his government cannot possibly tolerate young adults living in the same household without marriage, as “anything” might happen in such cases, and young men and women living together during university years is against his conservative-democrat views. He continued, saying that he has given orders to the governors of provinces to take the necessary steps and start investigations of such “couples.”
Earlier in September, the government had taken prohibitive measures against the construction of single-room apartments – especially popular for single people who do not wish to share an apartment. The explanation given by the government was that the young professionals who usually rent these apartments may do “anything” if they live alone and all kinds of “immorality” could take place in such “bedroom-flats.”
Over the last months, there have already been attempts to further separate men’s and women’s dormitories and social spaces in educational institutions, including several universities and high schools. Currently there are very few student dormitories that host men and women in the same block, and no mixed-sex rooms. Erdogan’s remarks concerned houses rented from letting agencies.
Vice-Prime Minister Bulent Arinc held a press conference and refuted the statements appearing in the media regarding prohibitive measures, saying that the government only focuses on prohibition of mixed-sex dormitories (which do not exist), and added that people are free to live as they like in the houses they rent.
Not long after Arinc finished his speech, PM Erdogan made another statement saying that rented apartments are also included in his understanding and that he is disturbed that young people may be “trusted” too much by their parents and allowed liberties in social life. For that reason, Erdogan added, the government would prepare and pass the necessary laws to prohibit and criminalize such mixed-sex housing for unmarried people. PM Erdogan stated that governors should take initiatives to combat such behaviors, or else in the future much bigger problems were to be expected from these people.
PM Erdogan’s statement was addressed to the parents of young adults, saying “If you approve of your daughters living with young men it is fine, but we will prepare the necessary regulations against it.”
Vice-Prime Minister Arinc also restated his opinion afterwards, saying “My earlier statement focused on how the young people should be allowed freedom if they are of legal age, yet we live in a society of values and morals. If young people are to do things that married people do, if they are to take guests in mixed-sex apartments, the neighbors would consider this place to be a brothel or a terror-cell house. Of course municipalities and governors will intervene with such cases if these people are disturbing their neighbors.”
Without any legal basis, already across the country “concerned conservatives” have put up labels against student houses and warned that such people will not be tolerated in the same building where they live, and that they would call the police if they realize their neighbors are passing time in the same house. Moreover, several letting agencies have declared that they were already not quite comfortable renting an apartment to mixed-sex groups, but would not tolerate them at all after PM Erdogan’s statements.
In the end, the governing AKP continues to hide behind the defense “Whose lifestyle have we ever intervened in ? We are only trying to bring morals back to society as a conservative democratic party. It would be quite disturbing for us to let everyone live as they wish against social values and morals.”
The repercussions of these statements in the pro-government media were welcoming, yet they see the regulation now in preparation as inadequate, as they wish to see same-sex educational facilities completely separated after primary school.
More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://radicaldemocrat.blog.com
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