Women get punished with poverty for performing feminist dance

Nine students who were arrested for performing the Chilean feminist dance Las Tesis are suffering from financial consequences. Aylin Şahin's student loan payments were discontinued because of the investigation against her, and Leyla Mavili was kicked out of her dormitory after police notified the administration of her arrest.

Aynur Tekin / Duvar

Nine students who were arrested on Dec. 25 for performing the feminist dance “Las Tesis” on the campus of Ankara University were punished financially.

The seven female and two male students who were arrested are under investigation for seeking to perform the Chilean feminist dance that was banned on the Ankara University campus.

Yet the consequences go beyond the students' arrests and the investigation.

A senior at the university, Aylin Şahin received a notice from the Higher Education Student Loan and Housing Board telling her that her student loan payments had been discontinued.

"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. They want to silence us, punish us by impoverishing us" Şahin said.

Though most college students in Turkey work to get by, Şahin had decided to take out a loan to be able to focus more on school. Now, she's looking for a job to pay for her school expenses.

"We only get one course out of the dining hall at school. We try to find ways to limit expenses elsewhere. It's a complete luxury to buy books. I won't even mention going to the theater or the movies," Şahin said.

'The school reported us to the police'

Leyla Mavili recently found herself without a residence after she received a call from her dormitory's administration a few weeks ago.

"The school reported us to the police and the police notified my dorm. They called and said that they had to start an investigation.

Mavili is angry about the retaliation she's received for performing a non-violent protest against femicides.

"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," Mavili noted.

She says that many friends opened up their homes to her after she got kicked out of the dorm.

"I'm going to have to live on others' help for a while, I'm grateful for female solidarity," she said, but she's not entirely happy with the situation.

"This isn't a sustainable situation, I'll have to get my own place eventually. If they cut off my loans too, then I'll be in serious poverty."