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I am training for the Istanbul marathon and went out for a long run this morning. Near Besiktas a man on a bike cut me off, a little while later I realized he had doubled back and was following me. He started talking to me a bit and I tried brushing him off. He went away for briefly and then came back and asked me to have tea with him. I told him no I am running. Not far from the palace he got off his bike and obstructed my path, I tried to get around him and he grabbed me, I started pulling away and thrashing and he held on tighter and I started shouting let go of me and finally got away and ran in the opposite direction of him and called a friend crying who then came and picked me up. It was really upsetting to me that he made me afraid while I was just trying to do what I love to do, run. Also I lived in Morocco and have traveled elsewhere in the Middle East and have found Turkey to be more comfortable but this was my most intense experience with harassment on the streets anywhere.
Several blocks away from my house I noted that there was someone who seemed rather sketchy following a small group that included me, my small female housemate, and my very tall male friend. A few minutes later, he ran behind me, pulled my tight dress up to my waist, exposing my underwear. Throwing his hands into a victory motion, he ran.
This was completely unexpected, given that I was not walking alone and was in fact walking with two people, including a man who was about a foot taller than the guy.
My friend began to chase after him, with my housemate and I trailing and yelling. He tackled him to the ground after several blocks. At this point, my housemate and I yelled at him and hit him with our purses. Jerk. People came out of their houses to confirm we were okay. We let him go; he ran quickly away.
It makes me so incredibly angry the amount of abuse and assault that takes place in this country that serves only to humiliate women.
I was walking home from the library after a late night of studying. I was just a few paces from my apartment building’s door when I heard fast footsteps coming behind me. A shorter man in his mid to late 50s was charging at me, holding plastic bags — I thought he was a delivery man who was running late.
I turned to apologize for being startled, but when he came close to me, he shoved me against the wall. He grabbed my neck and my face, but I was much taller than him and was able to push him off me. When he realized I could physically dominate him, he fled. I chased him for a bit, screaming the whole time. I was shaking so hard I couldn’t hold my key steady to open the door for at least five minutes.
It clearly wasn’t a premeditated attack — it looked like he was carrying home groceries to his wife and decided to approach me on a whim. I have no idea what he thought was going to happen. Did he really think he could rape me, a 187 cm tall woman, under the eyes of about two thousand residential windows?
I moved from my home in Sao Paulo to istanbul last year with my husband and daughter. Since moving here, I have frequently been the object of harassment, often verbal and occassionally physical. Earlier this week, my family moved to a new apartment. Five Turkish men were hired to help us move. One of the men cornered me in our old kitchen. He pointed to his hand to ask if I was married. I told him (in English) that I was indeed married, that my husband was elsewhere in our apartment, and I showed the man my wedding ring. Nevertheless, he moved in and tried to kiss me. I did’t yell, but I ran into the other room and told my husband. I am a rather quiet person and I do not speak Turkish (my English is also limited – an American friend is helping me to write this post). I have trouble knowing how to react in situations like this. Life in this city can be very frightening at times.
By Kacie Lyn Kocher, Founder and Director
For anyone who knows me, celebrity gossip is not really my thing. But the latest news about Rihanna, Chris Brown, and the Grammy’s is so infuriating that I cannot bring myself to stop reading about it. For those of you who do not know, for the 2009 Grammys (THE music awards show of the year), Rihanna was meant to perform during the ceremony. However, the night before the Grammys, a dispute between the couple ended in assault and Rihanna in the hospital:
What’s really upsetting about all of this is the lack of compassion and down right common sense there is in the situation. There is absolutely NO REASON to do that to another person, woman, man, or trans-person. Yet, Hollywood, pop stars, and the media largely submitted to the “no comment” stance, suggesting that maybe Rihanna did something that warranted abuse. Not only has Chris brown been selling millions of albums since then, he was invited back to the Grammy’s this month to preform AND won a grammy award. As Lainey Gossip puts it: Chris Brown has been “Celebrated. Not ‘allowed to attend’. Not just ‘no longer barred’, but celebrated.”
As for the victim, she’s been explicitly told not to complain. Check out these list of tweetsthat say that they’d have Chris Brown beat them any day, which includes:
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! This is absolutely an outrage. Victims of violence in homes and on the street are being blamed for others’ acts of violence, intolerance, and abuse of power. Blaming the victim and celebrating the aggressor is supported throughout the world through traditional media, culture, institutions, and twitter. It’s times like this, when confronted which such blatant injustice, that we must work together and clearly say “This Is Wrong!” Invest your time and money in media, leaders, and institutions which promote lasting change, which support the victim, and which support you. And sign this petition to show the Grammy’s and everyone else who dismisses the weight of violence in relationships that it’s wrong.
Want to know more about the Grammy situation? is a great article on it.
I have been in Turkey for 40 years and have witnessed/experienced all sorts of harassment on the streets. Last year a young woman was being assaulted on the street by a man who was obviously her partner or spouse or whatever, but he had her in a choke-hold and was swearing at her. Lots of men were witnessing, but no one was doing anything. I went up, took out my phone and threatened to call the police. The man and I got into a shouting match, but he finally released her and she walked away. The men who had been watching all looked embarrassed as I then walked away. I am not sure if I did enough, but I knew that the police would NEVER respond to this kind of call in Tarlabasi so I was bluffing… When I see a girl getting touched while on a bus, I ask her — rather loudly — if she is uncomfortable and then I offer to give my seat, while staring the offender down. The harasser generally squirms away at that point.
I have experienced several types of harassment living in Istanbul ranging from staring (sometimes just out of curiosity, sometimes sexually), to groping, to hissing/shouting/mumbling degrading things, to actual assault.
A friend from the U.S. was visiting me and having difficulty ignoring the staring and hissing. After two days of harassment she was really losing her patience, but she wanted to see the nightlife so we went out in Taksim, had a nice time and were on our way home. It was late at night, but we were both sober and trying to quietly walk down Istiklal, which was still really crowded. A man approached us to come to a club, putting his arm around my friend and she lost it and started screaming at him, so I pulled her up a side street and begged her to just ignore it. As we weaved through the streets it got quieter and a young man blocked our way and asked us to go to his club “Yes please! Cheap drinks! Nice music!” My friend and I were very calm and polite and I told him in Turkish we were tired and going home. We finally made our way past him and he started yelling obscenities at us and calling us names. After a year of not talking back to any of these men, I turned, looked him in the eye, and cursed back at him. We then turned on a more crowded street and walked away. Moments later my friend saw him running up and he suddenly pulled my hair. Something clicked in my (tiny) friend and she pushed me out of the way and was screaming at him and punched him. He soon slapped her, back-handing her to the ground and my instinct was to grab her (still screaming) and get out of there. This happened right in front of a bunch of restaurants with several people sitting at them and milling about. No one did anything, no one asked if we were okay, no one said anything to the guy, nothing.
I’ve been grabbed, goosed and pressed up against in crowded trams
countless times and have learned how to stomp feet and elbow backwards
pretty well, but last November I was flat-out assaulted. My girlfriend
and I were walking on Istiklal, which was jammed, at 8:00 on a
Friday night. A short thickset man walked right up to me and punched
me so hard in my right breast that I almost passed out. Gasping, I
staggered to a table outside a cafe and put my head down. Two waiters
rushed over with water while my girlfriend expostulated in Turkish.
“Get him! Get him!” I said to the two guys running the cafe. They said
nothing could be done, he was crazy. I described him: short, thickset,
hairy, wearing dark khaki or brown clothes. At last one guy ran off to
see if he could talk to him, according to my girlfriend. Then she and
the other waiter explained to me that here in modern, progressive
Istanbul there is nothing done about such people, and that if we went
to the police, I’d get a lecture about the way I was dressed. I was
wearing a loose white T-shirt and jeans. I was sixty at the time. What really burns me is today I was shopping, and I couldn’t make myself buy a white T-shirt.
One early evening, as I was coming home from shopping and had my arms full, on the front steps to my house, a man suddenly appeared behind me. With a key (or maybe his thumb) he traced a line on the butt seam of my jeans. Then he ran away. I yelled out “aptal” (stupid), and I was glad I could conjure up a word in Turkish so quickly.
Reading through everyone’s stories, it’s clear that we all need to have some choice Turkish phrases or words to scream out on the moment of assault or harassment. It won’t necessarily change the idiot’s behavior, but it will allow us the satisfaction of expressing our anger and not feeling so paralyzed.
If anyone has good suggestions, please post!
On Monday around 3pm in the afternoon I was in a home furnishing shop. I had my handbag on my left shoulder and I felt commotion on my left but an older gentleman came around on my right. He asked me to take notice of my hand bag. I pulled my bag from my shoulder and saw an enormous patch of spit on my purse. I was horrified and disgusted. I could not believe that someone had spit on me. I was disorientated and immediately upset. The older gentleman, who was well dressed, put on a sad face and made some declarations in Turkish about ‘impolite’ people. He asked me if I had a wet wipe and let me help you. My guard was completely down as he was older, well-dressed, and being germaphobic I was totally disgusted. I took out a wet wipe and he said hold the handle of your bag and he wiped it clean. Then while I was holding the handbag by the handle, he still had the bottom part in his hand, he said, ‘you have a lot on your back’. I had another handwipe in my free hand and I turned to look and wipe. As soon as I turned, he stepped closer to me, grabbed the waist band of my jeans and put his hand in my pants. He than ran away. Given the half turned position, the shock and horror of the whole thing, I had zero reaction. I was stunned. It even took me until to I came home and relaxed and thought about the sequence of events that I was able to evaluate what had happened to me.
I strongly believe that this person and many others target foreign women. Please take this as a warning to recognize this METHOD of OPERATION and if someone should approach you with something unpleasant on your clothes or purses, do not fall for it and become a victim!