A TURKISH television presenter who was dismissed after appearing on screen with a low neckline has called for other women to wear the same dress in protest.
Gozde Kansu lost her job hosting a Saturday night talent show, Veliaht, after Huseyin Celik, a senior government spokesman, told a TV interviewer that her appearance was unacceptable. He did not refer to Kansu by name, describing her only as “the presenter of a game show on one channel”.
The episode has fuelled the fears of secular Turks who say the government is reshaping the country along conservative lines.
Kansu, 33, responded yesterday by posing in the black sequined gown with a placard that read: “My body, my dress, my performance.”
The show’s producers confirmed her dismissal, claiming that her performance “was not in line with the show’s aims”. Kansu said that the choice of the dress and the recorded performance had been agreed upon with the producers in advance.
“It was only when Celik spoke that things changed,” she said. “First they said the problem is the ‘cleavage’, then they changed their minds about it and said they ‘did not like the performance’.”
Mr Celik has defended himself, saying he had a right to comment, and blamed the media for identifying Kansu. “I never named a show or a person. It was the media who alleged the names,” he wrote on Twitter.
ATV, the channel that broadcast the show, is owned by Calik Holding, whose chief executive officer is the son-in-law of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“I am tired of the debate that surrounds women’s bodies,” said Kansu. “My family does not interfere with me, they never would. I know how I should dress. Why can’t they let us be, leave our bodies, our cleavages, our performances alone?” She said that the dress had become a “symbol” and she encouraged other women to wear it.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen. “I think a lot of young women would wear this kind of thing anyway, although I’m not sure about the overall style,” said Binnaz Toprak, an MP for the main opposition, the People’s Republican Party, founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. “But what’s unacceptable here is a government minister commenting on a girl’s cleavage, and then that girl losing her job.”
Kansu’s case comes in the same week that the government lifted a ban on women civil servants wearing the Islamic veil. Last month it tightened restrictions on alcohol, banning all advertising and restricting hours of sale.
– See more at: The Australian