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AT LEAST nine students in Turkey detained on December 25 for performing a feminist dance popularised in Chilean anti-government protests have had their student loans blocked.
Ankara University authorities were accused of collusion with the police to have seven women and two men arrested during a campus protest against the Turkish state’s failure to protect women from violence.
Aylin Sahin hit out, saying: “There are supposedly not enough police officers to protect women from abusers, but on that day the entire Ankara police force was on the university campus for seven women.”
She explained that she received a letter from the Higher Education Student Loan and Housing Board telling her that her student loan payments had been stopped.
“They want to silence us, punish us by impoverishing us,” Ms Sahin said.
Another student, Leyla Mavili, accused the university authorities of reporting the students to the police after she was evicted from her halls of residence.
“The school reported us to the police and the police notified my dorm. They called and said that they had to start an investigation,” she said, adding that she would be “in serious poverty” if her loan is axed too.
“We’re not talking about an isolated murder, this is a gender slaughter. Women die every day in this country. That’s what we were protesting,” Ms Mavili warned.
Turkey remains one of the most unequal countries in the world for women; the country is ranked 130th out of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index 2020.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has presided over the increased discrimination against women, even stating that he believes those who don’t have children are abnormal.
At least 430 women were murdered in Turkey last year with a number of high-profile cases attracting widespread revulsion and accusations of complicity by the state, which campaigners warned has normalised misogyny.
Women’s rights organisations organised a series of protests across the country in December in solidarity with Chilean women and against the actions of the Turkish state.
Many of them were violently attacked by police with scores taken into custody.
At least seven were detained in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district in early December when around 300 women gathered to perform the Chilean dance and song “a rapist in your path.”
Authorities were angered over the lyric: “You are the rapist. You are the killer. It’s the cops, the judges, the state and the president.”
It is illegal to insult the president in Turkey, with a potential jail sentence of up to four years.
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