I think I was around 5 years old when I first started to learn that it was always women and girls who were being beaten at the end of family fights. I didn’t know and wasn’t curious of the reasons of those fights.
When I started to grow up, I started to learn the reason and meaninglessness of these fights. The primary factor was freedom of expression, paradise was lying at the feet of them but on the condition that they would give account of their opinions and every step they take to the men.
Changes I saw in women neighbors and wives of our relatives, who were coming to visit us, were pretty much the same. Some were coming with a black eye, some with broken head or arm. For those who hear or see, it was only natural.
“What is the big deal, her husband beat her”.
I was hearing this sentence from women more than men, and especially from the oldest ones.
“My daughter, he is your husband, he both beats and loves. Keep silent”.
There weren’t femicides in that period or we weren’t hearing about it. Since there were no mass communication tools like now, we were hearing about a femicide that occurred two streets from us after several months or weren’t hearing anything at all.
In deaths of women and girl, what we heard most was suicides. The easiest way of suicides is a person hanging herself, pulling her own rope.
“New bride Maya hanged herself in the neighborhood”, we heard.
All neighborhood residents were heading to see the hanged woman and everyone were lamenting for the dead woman.
Love in the hearts of young girls required more struggle. If a young girl was in love with someone, she had to keep it a secret. If her elder brothers or father, or even a distant relative, heard about it, it would conclude with murder by 80 percent.
Last story I witnessed before moving abroad was the story of Suna.
Not allowed to get married with her lover, Suna dove into Seyhan river and her body was found in Karataş three days later. After that, people lamented for her. Like any death, Suna’s death was forgotten too.
While the smell of death spread to the whole Çukurova, the black destiny of the woman came into blossom again. In the field, in the struggle, right in the middle of the sorrows, blood spills on the face of white-spiked cottons, bridal veils cry, Çukurova burns, burns so badly...
Most of the women who were killed were working at honky tonks.
The situation in Adana is in the open: The majority of the honky tonks, coffee houses and open-air cinemas were definitely in Adana. Many of the honky tonks, which spread almost all corners of the city, were located along the banks of the river.
The iron bridge built by the French and situated just beside the honky tonks was used only by the pedestrians and the trains travelling to the East. These voyages and passages also continue today just as in the past. Our neighborhood was on the river bank almost right across the bridge.
Since there were many people from the neighborhood going to the honky tonks as a client, we heard about the news of honky tonks before anyone else at the coffee houses and everywhere.
Every month, a woman working at a honky tonk was either killed or jumped off the iron bridge.
The ones that named the women who were forced to work at honky tonks by men as “Honky Tonk Women” were again the men themselves.
The small talk that the men made among themselves was always the same: “They threw the woman off the iron bridge, but my dear brother, she did wrong to the next table.”
These and similar other small talks drag on and on. All in all, the woman deserved to die, whatever the man does, he is right, it is a matter of pride, he was even sure to beg the woman: “Please, do not go, do not make me kill you…” Stories began like that and ended after a short while under the sad lights of the honky tonks…
One night, while I was passing along the backstreets of Beyoğlu, a scream of one woman was shattering the world around, it was tearing out the hearts of people. The weather was cold as ice, her thin clothes were in tatters, her hands and face were drenched in blood.
The woman was screaming at the top of her voice: “Yes, yes, we are prostitutes, but we are prostitutes just because you created prostitution by becoming pimps. Were we born from our mothers like that? You men debauched us, you pricks.”
When I heard this scream of the woman, the honky tonks in Adana and the helpless women swam before my eyes, before my heart… (MS/ŞA/APA/TK/SD)
52 MEN 52 WEEKS
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