turkish students oppose elimination of mixedsex dorm
Last Updated : GMT 16:11:32
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Turkish students oppose elimination of mixed-sex dorm

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Turkish students oppose elimination of mixed-sex dorm

Istanbul - XINHUA

Turkish university students staged protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recently- revealed intention to eliminate mixed-sex accommodation in state- run dormitories. "This is a violation of privacy. As a student I definitely do not assent what he said," a first-year student at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul told Xinhua on Friday. The boy student, who requested anonymity, said: "Male and female living together has nothing to do with the ethical codes." Mixed-sex dorm has been in heated debate in Turkey since Erdogan openly declared: "Female and male students cannot live in the same house" at a meeting of Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party on Nov. 3. "They are all mixed up, anything can happen. As a conservative democratic government, we have to intervene," he said, governors had already been "intervening in certain situations upon ' intelligence' about houses where male and female university students live together." On Nov. 6, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler escalated the debate by suggesting that many mixed-student houses harbored " terrorist and illegal" activities, such as prostitution. "We are considering the issue from the viewpoint of a fight against terrorism," he said. "Particularly, apartments, student residences and lodging houses where university students are living are places that terror groups and other illegal groups see as a resource for gaining support and finding new members." Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party called the government's move to do away with mixed-sex housing an act to " criminalize" the students. The party's leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, questioned: "Should a prime minister put all the students staying in (private) houses under suspicion? Should he create an environment in which all parents would suspect their children?" Turkish students who spoke to Xinhua expressed their disappointment and frustration toward Erdogan. "The prime minister might have the upcoming elections in mind when he said these words. He might have wanted to ... attract votes from the conservatives," said one student. A girl student said that Turkey has more important problems to deal with than mixed-sex accommodation. "Why does not the prime minister deal with the foreign debt issue, for example? Instead, he is obsessed with our private life." Meanwhile, parents who spoke to Xinhua were just as frustrated as their children. They all mentioned in Turkey people over the age of 18 are considered as adult by law. "They can make their own decisions. No body can dictate any of them anything. There is something wrong with his statement. It is not rational," said a mother of a 24-year-old boy. Another man in his 40's said: "I very much regret what he said on my behalf. Look at the societies in which male and female grow together, in which girls and boys live together, you can easily see how civilized these societies are." Nilufer Narli, the head of Sociology Department in Bahcesehir University, said: "There is no law in Turkey forbidding male and female over the age of 18 to stay in the same houses. As an academician, I am wondering based on what legal code the government will take preventive measures. That will definitely ignite a new debate on the legal system." Aydin Engin, journalist at T24 internet newspaper, told Xinhua that Erdogan's statement has the potential to escalate the already high tension in the society. Pointing out that thousands of couples live together in Turkey, he said: "Any intervention might have serious consequences for the society" and would be "a violation of the constitution." Both Narli and Engin warned that some conservative people could start to report the houses in which they think that male and female students live together even this is not the case.

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