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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.
After saying Good-Bye to my friend, I started to walk the 200 meters to my house and was immediately followed by two men on either side of me. They were walking very close to me and shouting things. I ran into the corner shop where I knew the owner and he had his son walk me home.
I was walking up Misak-ı Milli Sokak in Kadıköy from the ferry stop when a man about 55-60 years old (gray hair, 5’10″-6’0″, overweight) began following me. I wasn’t sure at first that he was following me, so I stopped to get something out of my bag. He stopped too. I then began to walk very quickly and crossed to the other side of the street. He crossed immediately to the other side as well. Then he started to call out (in English), “Girl! Girl!” and “Stop, girl!”
I crossed to the other side of the street again, and he again followed. Four times in total I crossed the street, and each time he followed me, yelling at me all the way in English. No one did anything to help.
Then, he started to get *very* close to me and was yelling at me angrily (one meter or less) and I felt that he might try to grab me, hurt me, or something worse. I ran up to a Turkish couple that was ahead of me, and quickly explained in Turkish that that man was following me, yelling at me, and that I did not know him and was very scared. I asked if they could help, and they said very loudly (also in Turkish) that they would walk me to the police station.
Upon hearing that, the man ran off, but it was a very frightening situation for me.
I’ve always been a feminist and a supporter of Hollaback!, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I really saw firsthand the impact of rape culture and harassment. I’m shaken and horrified, and I urge anyone who has never been a target of harassment to realize that yes, this is all of our problem.
This Saturday, while we were at a party, my girlfriend was speaking with some guy in a different room. Suddenly, she ran up to me and said “we need to go, right now.” I nodded and went to grab our things, while she went outside. When I came outside, she was literally being chased by the man she was speaking to, and was yelling. The I confronted him, and his response was “You don’t know what we were talking about, man.” He literally blamed the victim in the midst of fucking chasing her, as if she had somehow asked to be menaced and pursued screaming in the street.
On the walk home, she couldn’t stop shaking and was literally paralyzed by fear, repeating several times that she was “terrified.” They had been discussing gender and masculinity, which the guy turned into the pick-up line “I want to fuck you in the ass.” My girlfriend told him that she wasn’t interested and he got angry and irrational. He told her that he was “going to fuck her no matter what she wanted” and that he’d “do bad things to her.” His harassment spilled into the street and became physical when she left the room. If it wasn’t for me, I don’t know what would have happened.
I don’t think this story is uncommon. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been harassed; someone you know has been, and we all bear responsibility for ending it.one comment