The Supreme Court of Appeals dealt a blow to two men's crusade to end sexual discrimination at one of the places where men and women mingle the most: Nightclubs.
Burak Cop and Engin Ader had filed a lawsuit against two nightclubs in Asmalımescit, Istanbul's popular nightlife destination, after they were denied access "without female partners" in 2011. Two academics decided to take the case to the court in an attempt to give voice to this primary complaint of male clubbers. Plaintiffs claimed they were victims of humiliating behavior and sought compensation from the owners of the clubs. Their lawyer had purported the defense that denial of access was against laws ensuring gender equality. Most nightclubs and bars impose a ban on male patrons arriving without a woman partner - known as "dam" in Turkish. The lawyer told the local court the two men were viewed as potentially dangerous to women, while the women were derided and portrayed as individuals in need of protection from men and unable to spend a night out alone through the discriminatory "dam" rule.The nightclubs denying access to the two men defended the rule as a measure to prevent "overcrowding" and as "a security precaution." They further claimed it had nothing to do with sexual discrimination. A local court sided with the club owners and ruled that banning access to men without women would hurt business and clubs would not want it.
Speaking to Milliyet daily, Neha Çaylan, lawyer for the two plaintiffs who took the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals, the ultimate legal authority, said they were hopeful that the "dam" rule would be recognized as a sign of discrimination. "We had the support of many people and hoped to start a discussion on the legal and social aspects of the matter," Çaylan said.
Save for clubs, discos, bars and other venues catering mostly for foreign customers, the "dam" rule is applicable in almost every part of the country. The rule occasionally causes brawls among inebriated customers seeking access to the clubs without female partners and security guards, but the rule is mostly relaxed for frequent customers who are single.