Turkish journalist tried for espionage and treason claims men and women are compartmentalized in public life in Turkey
On 12 August 2016, Can Dundar, a Turkish journalist tried for espionage and treason who recently resigned from his job as editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet and went to Germany, gave an interview to the German daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung.
Dundar told the interviewer that men and women are compartmentalized in public places in Turkey. “Men and women are being gradually compartmentalized in restaurants, buses and beaches. There was no such thing in Turkey before.”
It remained unclear what the source of Dundar’s claim was.
As a matter of fact, there is no official declaration ordering such compartmentalization in public places. All public places and public transportation vehicles are accessible to every Turkish citizen and no citizen was ever reported to have been forced out of, or not let in, a public place or public transportation vehicle because of his/her gender.
Since restaurants are privately owned businesses, they are legally entitled to choose whether or not they implement gender compartmentalization. However, gender-based compartmentalization in restaurants is strikingly rare due to an observed lack of social demand. State-owned restaurants run by municipalities are also mixed.
Public beaches are likewise mixed and no one was ever reported to have been forced out of, or not let in, a public beach because of his/her gender. There are a few women-only beaches in Turkey and all of them are also privately owned.
Women-only beaches are not specific to Turkey or majority-Muslim countries. Italy also has two of them. An Italian newspaper said, "the woman-only beach reflected a growing demand for female rights in Italy.” One woman called the other women-only beach “an oasis of calm”.
Another claim Dundar put forward was that drinking alcohol in public in Turkey is forbidden, adding that Islam is the reason: “It is not possible to drink in public in Turkey anymore except in [a few cities such as] Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. This is Islam.”
However, public alcohol consumption is constitutionally legal in Turkey. Only in nine cities such as Kayseri, Bilecik and Rize is drinking in public forbidden. Governorates of cities are able to take measures of this kind to protect public security and peace.