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Here is the story of a young egyptian woman who was brutally killed after reacting to a man groping her in the street. Street harassment has lately become a major issue in post-revolution Egypt and activists are demanding to be heard: the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights already sent a draft law to the president but has yet to receive an answer.no comments
When we asked our hotel for a recommendation on a place to celebrate the new year, our concierge warned us off Taksim Square/Istikal Street because it was too unsafe. He recommended a place close to the Osenbey metro stop. The fireworks show came to a close shortly after midnight, my cousin and I try to get a jump on the crowd and leave a little early. Apparently, others had the same idea. It turned into a swell of people pushing and screaming. It was hard to keep your balance…the whole thing was out of control. As I get swept up into the mayhem, the group of 6 guys in front of me asked if I’d like to exit thru them onto the main street. I erroneously thought there were being kind. What happened next still has me in shock. The first 2 guys step aside so I can pass thru, then the guys close in around me and start groping me and grinding on me as I struggle to escape. My survival instinct kicked in and I started screaming & punching at those that I could make contact with. I wanted them to know that I am a survivor and it is not okay to take advantage of me. The fact that this happened in such a public venue was shocking. My screams didn’t spur anyone to help me. If anything, it was as if watching multiple men grab a woman’s crotch & breasts while trying to rub their erections on her were okay. But it’s not. And I refuse to keep this incident silent.
When I was finally able to escape, I realized that I was separated from my cousin and alone on the streets with my perpetrators following me. I started to run and panic then prayed to God for protection. As I’m walking, more men notice that I am alone and begin approaching me. Which spurred me to move quickly in large crowds. I was able to find a big group of people who spoke English and they kept me safe until I was able to get back to the hotel.
Istanbul — you have a problem. Just like India & Egypt have a problem. Having read stories of women being raped in those countries recently, it always seemed like something so foreign…until now. Women have value…we deserve respect AND protection.
This trip has taught me a valuable lesson. Always be aware of your surroundings and travel with mace. The world is a dangerous place…and that is something that I had forgotten since my travel experiences had always been so wonderful.
While those men may have violated me, I refuse to consider myself a victim. I may be struggling to make sense of this, but I refuse to stop travelling. Fear and joy cannot reside together and I am choosing to be HAPPY. I absolutely refuse to allow this event to define me or my travels. I believe having a positive attitude can turn this traumatic event into a mere annoyance that I can use as a reminder for myself and others to stay vigilant. So, instead of thinking about how bad this year has started off, I am choosing to believe that my year can go nowhere but up. Safe travels, everyone.
I was walking home late one night, I was with a friend but he was pretty drunk so I told him to just go home and that I could walk the last 5 minutes to my house by myself just fine. There were no people on the streets except for one man, walking on the same sidewalk as myself. When we were about to pass each other he reached out and grabbed my wrist. He said something in Turkish that I did not understand and I told him to let go. He then whispered at me in English, “this is our moment” and tried to pull me towards him but I twisted out of his grip and began to walk away. He then chased me and grabbed me again but I told him no in Turkish and again twisted out of his grip. As I walked or maybe ran away, he reached out to try and grab my crotch and butt from the back but he only touched my butt. It was fucking disgusting and it made me feel disgusting as well.
I was also harassed again recently in Gulbag, it was early Sunday night and I had to walk between two cars and a man was coming the opposite direction. He wouldn’t really move out of the way for me but I moved pretty quickly to avoid him and he reached out to try and touch my crotch but missed because I moved so quickly. I was so confused, I thought maybe it was an accident but he gave me a sick little smile and I was too in shock to say anything. Mostly I just thought, what the fuck is wrong with people? I also saw a Turkish woman get spit on on the metrobus, I’m getting really fed up with the patriarchal culture here, it makes me absolutely fucking sick.
We were walking home after diner me, my wife, and my two daughters age 14&16. We stopped at an auto supply shop chockfull of stuff. My youngest always being inquisitive walked into the shop looking at things suddenly came out crying. The shop owner (man in 50′s) had isolated her and squeezed her breasts. She still a child and was shocked. Now I should mention that she goes to acting school and she likes to fool us so our first reaction was disbelief and we just walked on. Now this morning I feel bad about it. she doesn’t want to talk about it and I want to file a complaint or take some sort of action. The shop is right around the corner of the flat we rent. They only speak Turkish and I worry if I go to the Jandarma they will not take the claim seriously…..
Any suggestions? We travel a lot and this is a first.
I remember the first time I got unwanted attention from a man. I was about 12 and walking to the corner shop to pick up butter for my mother. A man in a truck slowed down and started whistling and then began speaking Spanish to me. I was confused and unsure of what he wanted and stopped to see if I could help. When I turned towards him, he made the Peace Sign, put it up to his mouth and stuck his tongue out. I didn’t know what it meant but chills ran through my body and I ran as fast as I could to the store. I grew up in downtown Chicago and found out quickly that this type of behavior would be like my period, a constant pain that I couldn’t ignore even if I crossed my eyes like the little Huxtable girl tried to do on The Bill Cosby Show to stop her flow.
I never saw that man again, he will always be nameless to me but it marked a turning point in my life. It marked the day I would never feel completely safe on the street again. I began thinking about this man on Saturday night when I was in Taksim. It was the night of the Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce Championship game and things were a bit hectic on Istikal Street, to say the least. I was walking with a guy friend when all the sudden a man walked past us and grabbed my left breast. It happened so quickly that it took me a moment to process that I was just groped. When I turned to yell at the guy, he had vanished in the crowded street. My friend and I continued on our way and started talking about harassment. He admitted that he tends to forget that this is a constant struggle and pain for women and asked about the first time I was ever harassed. I told him about my pre-pubescent trek to the corner store. As we continued to talk about the reality of street harassment, it dawned on me how similar these two men are and the real reason why they infuriate me. While I don’t like being touched or verbally harassed, I realized that was not what bothered me the most. What really ticks me off is that I never will be able to hold either man accountable for their actions. I believe strongly that both men have forgotten about me, I was just a brief moment of play for them, an adrenaline rush that faded minutes after I was out of their sight. But their actions impacted my life. For a year I was afraid to go to the market alone as a child and I will always remember the 2012 Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce match as the night I was groped.
Anonymity allows these men to get away with harassing women. But my question is how do you hold someone you don’t know accountable for his actions? I think the answer is a bit depressing; you can’t confront a nameless harasser after he’s gone and you can never directly explain to him why his behavior hurt you. That is the sad truth. But the good news is that in our globalized, viral world we do have a lot more forums and networks to increase awareness and express our grievances. Organizations like Hollaback are an amazing way to fight back. I think creating a dialogue about this reality is imperative to help stop it from occurring. I know sometimes when I am harassed, I feel powerless. But it’s important to remember we all have a voice, it’s just important for everyone to choose when, where, how and why they want to use it.
I was groped by a man in a black suit when walking past the Sultanahmet tram stop. He squeezed my upper arm as I walked by. He grabbed me in such a way that I realized he had meant to squeeze my breast, but missed and grabbed my arm instead. I only saw him from behind, but he was about 5’6″-5’8″ tall and probably around 50 years old. My husband was right beside me when this happened, and the man didn’t even care that my husband was there–he grabbed me anyway.
I’m a 36 year old man and have lived in Istanbul for two years. This week my little sister and her friend came for a visit. Yesterday I was taking them on a tour around the city, and we found ourselves on a crowded tram from Karakoy to Kabatas. As we were getting off of the train, my sister’s friend grabbed my arm and told me that someone – pardon – grabbed her ass. I immediately turned to the three or four possible culptits, but it was impossible to tell who was the guilty party. As they appeared to not know one another, there was little I could do. Needless to say, she was shocked and felt sick. I was also quite upset. I tried to reassure her that it was not uncommon. Welcome to Istanbul.
I stood on a packed evening bus, crammed between the driver and the money takers. Suddenly an uninvited hand was on my butt. Struggling unsuccessfully to get away, I passed a looked of panic to the money taker while eying the groper. He noticed my struggle and told the driver to open the door. With that, I elbowed him off, and he was pushed off the bus. With a smile I thanked the money taker. He nodded and turned his eyes back out the window.
While walking with friends towards Istiklal Cd. a man grabbed my friend’s bottom and his friend touched my other friend a moment later. My friend became very upset and angry and followed the guy onto Istiklal, tapped him on the shoulder and slapped him! The two men became aggressive and we quickly walked away after saying “cok ayip” (shameful) to the guys. Not the smartest reaction, but my friend felt much better afterward!
I was new in Istanbul and it was my second time on the bus. It was afternoon and the bus was almost full. I was holding onto a pole on the side standing, and I felt a man pressed against my back, so I moved sideways, so he moved too and pressed against my side. Then I moved and stood further from the poll on the side. The man held onto the pole on the other side of me (unnecessary) and the moved his arm further and touched my breasts, so I flinched and shouted at him and he backed off.
I was walking back home late at night with a female friend when a man came running up behind us and grabbed my butt. All that I could do was scream at him as he ran off laughing.
Last week after the Fenerbache vs Galtasaray match I was walking down Istiklal with a friend. The streets were crowded and the people were very wild. As we walked past Galatasaray High School, a man grabbed my left breast. It happened so quickly, it took me a moment to process it. I turned around to ‘Hollaback’ but he was gone. My guy friend was very upset but I was oddly apathetic. I realized that this behavior has occurred so often that my rage and shock has diminished a bit. This really upsets me.
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.
As I walked away from the Saturday night showing of the acclaimed “Vagina Monologues” at the Mekan Artı theater in Istanbul, I felt inspired, intrigued, a little Vagina-ed out, and content. I’ve been trying to catch the “Vagina Monologues” for a while now. They’d come and go to my university over the years, but I could never quite make it because I was too busy, too unaware, or too scared to go alone, just me and my vagina. But that’s what the “Vagina Monologues” are all about: being okay with who you are as a woman and being okay with what your vagina is as an essential, for some possibly the quintessential, part of the female body.
The “Vagina Monologues” are based on interviews conducted by Eve Ensler, an American playwright, performer, and activist. Ensler spoke with hundreds of women about how they feel about themselves, their bodies, and their unique phenomenological experiences as females in male-dominated societies. Ninety percent of the proceeds from this particular performance of the “Vagina Monologues”, the first of its kind in Istanbul, went to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an organization that provides assistance to women and children refugees, and victims of human trafficking. The remaining 10% of the proceeds went to V-Day, a global movement founded by Ensler to combat violence against women and girls.
I am about as far from a theater critic as you can get, but the variety of emotions the “Vagina Monologues” evoked is impressive. The multinational performers had me laughing until I cried one minute and on the verge of genuine, sad tears the next. Although they were performing the stories of other women, they all tapped into those experiences and found themselves within the context of the other woman’s story. Their committed performances enabled audience members to identify with the stories as well.
The topics of the monologues range from self-discovery and acceptance to rape and violence against women. The stories are raw, real, and can likely resonate with women around the world. The “Vagina Monologues” recognizes, lampoons, and challenges several commonly held beliefs that women are raised to hold about their bodies, specifically their vaginas. These include the vagina as being something forbidden, secretive, sinister, dirty, shameful, weak, unwanted, and, perhaps most disheartening, anyone else’s dominion but their own. Thus, it was empowering to see females proudly reclaiming the word ‘Vagina’ for themselves and other women when it is so often presented as anything but a source of pride.
Unfortunately, my positive experience at the “Vagina Monologues” was quickly made tragically relevant to Hollaback! and the issue of street harassment. Feeling uplifted as I left the show, I was surprised when I passed an English-speaking man angrily punch a nearby wall after confirming with the woman accompanying him that “It [had] happened again?” I glanced back to see what had happened, but decided it was none of my business since they had continued walking. Later, Kacie, friend and founder of HB! Istanbul, passed along an article in Today’s Zaman (http://www.todayszaman.com/news-276394-a-walk-in-my-girlfriends-shoes.html) detailing what I had actually witnessed. The article described a frustrating day the author and his girlfriend had had walking around Istanbul and experiencing harassment several times. It turned out they had attended the “Vagina Monologues” as well and when I passed them his girlfriend had once again been subtly groped. The thought that the author had been aggravated by a perpetrator of street harassment had never crossed my mind.
My reaction highlights how subtle street harassment can be and how easy it is for us as bystanders to be unaware of, and overlook, such instances. Yet an unwanted touch can remind a person of just how vulnerable they are and make them fearful of the world and insecure about their place within it. This slow marginalization occurs daily all around us. Thus, movements like Hollaback! and the “Vagina Monologues” that raise awareness and consciousness surrounding women’s issues, whether it be domestic violence in the home or misogynistic aggression in public, are vital. They not only aim to improve the status of women in public spheres of life, but also in the most private sphere of life, the way women feel about themselves and interpret the world around them.
A friend and I were walking to catch a dolmus this past Thursday night after meeting for dinner and drinks. We were in a cheerful mood, but weren’t being loud or attracting much attention. I noticed a man walking rather aggressively right behind us. Although he gave me a funny feeling, I hoped he was just trying to get around us so I moved into the street to make space for him. My friend hadn’t noticed the man and laughed at me for walking into the street at which pointed he groped her, then quickly walked ahead and disappeared into the crowd. It all happened so quickly my friend was still giggling as she registered it, at which point her face changed to one of shock and annoyance. We didn’t let it spoil the night, but it’s troubling how a small act like that can change the entire environment and mood. As we kept walking, the groping made the men calling/mumbling things at us (a normal occurrence) much more noticeable and menacing.