Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements regarding his worries on mixed-sex housing for students started a new wave of arguments within the country, raising social tension and anger among the young. Prime Minister Erdogan defended his statement saying his government can not possibly tolerate young adults to live 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 to say that he has given orders to the governors of provinces to take necessary steps and start investigations on such “couples”.
Earlier in September, government had taken prohibitive measures against 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-women dormitories and social spaces in education 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. Yet, the remarks of Prime Minister Erdogan regarded the houses rented from letting agencies.
Vice Prime Minister Bulent Arinc held a press-conference and refuted the statements appearing in media regarding prohibitive measures saying, the government only focuses on prohibition of mixed-sex dormitories (which do not exist) and he added that people are free to live as they like in the houses they rent.
Not long after Arinc finished his speech, Prime Minister Erdogan declared another statement saying that rented apartments are also included in his understanding and that he gets disturbed if young people were to be “trusted” too much by their parents and allowed liberties in social life. For that reason Prime Minister Erdogan added that the government would prepare and pass necessary laws to prohibit and criminalize such mixed-sex housing for unmarried people. Prime Minister Erdogan stated that governors should take initiative to combat such behaviors or else in the future much bigger problems were to be expected from these people.
Prime Minister 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 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 let free 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 base, already across the country “concerned conservatives” have put up labels against student houses and gave a warning that such people will not be tolerated in the same building that they live, and they would call the police if they realize their neighbors passing time in the same house. Moreover, several letting agencies declared that they were already not quite fine renting an apartment to mixed sex groups but would not tolerate them at all after Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements.
In the end, the governing AKP continues to hide behind defense “whose life style have we ever intervened? We are only trying to bring morals back to society as a conservative democrat party. As it would be quite disturbing for us to let everyone live as they wish against the social values and morals.”
The repercussions of these statements in the pro-government media was welcoming, yet they see the to-be-prepared regulation inadequate, as they wish to see completely separated same-sex educational facilities after primary school.
A couple of sample student housing campaign posters from France