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The Backyard of the City: The Hostesses-Bar girls

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“I would cry and say, ‘What is my mother doing?’ My step-dad used to give us money, he would say, ‘Get out, play games, don’t come in’. Men would come in. I was wondering if the neighbors were telling the truth. At school, girls wouldn’t play with me, they would say ‘your mother is a bad person’.”

                                                                            O two-step earth

              I've seen all your backyards

Nilgun Marmara

E.B., who started her business as a hostess at the age of 14 and continues in Van, is 29 years old and has 6 children. E. B., who could not hold back his tears while describing her experiences, says that everything started when she was little. When her mother was 12 years old, she was married to a 40-year-old man in exchange for a bride price.

Her mother gives birth to her first child, E.B., at the age of 13. When E.B. was only 1 year old, her mother could not stand the violence she suffered from her husband and left the house. Saying that her mother later married the man she loved, E.B. states that this is how the real story began. Saying that her mother was marketed by the man she married shortly after the marriage, E.B. dives into her childhood for a while. Then she continues as if she didn’t hesitate at all: “Of course, by the way, I have 3 more brothers. Despite this, this situation continues. Men are coming in and out of the house.”

Lives turned into tragedy…


What upsets E.B. the most is what she experienced as a child. The fact that her neighbors say that her mother is on a bad road and that her friends at school do not play with her are among the events that hurt she the most. “I would cry, I would say, what is my mother doing? My stepdad used to give us as money, he would say go out and play games, don’t come in. Men would come in. I was wondering if the neighbors were telling the truth. At school, girls wouldn’t play with me, they would say ‘your mother is a bad person'” these sentences get stuck in her throat.

Her stepfather did not stop there. After a while E.B. he says to her grandfather, “I will sell your grandchild the same way I sell your daughter,” and then the grandfather kills her stepfather. He stays in prison for 9 years. During this time, the mother is left with 4 children. E.B. says that neither her sisters nor her brothers did not take care of her mother, so her mother started working in a place. “And that’s where our story begins,” she says.

11 year old child


With her mother starting to work, her other siblings start to stay in their grandmother’s house and he herself in hes grandfather’s house. “We are all in the middle. My uncle said to my mother, ‘Don’t let your daughter be left in the middle. I have a 20-year-old son, let him marry her,” he says. I got engaged when I was 11 years old. When I got engaged, my uncle said, “You won’t go to school anymore” and they picked me up from school. I was married. But I am very small. I don’t know what marriage is, what it is to be a bride. I didn’t have my childhood,” says E. B.

Child marriage, violence, child-mother…


E.B., who said that she started to suffer from violence because she could not clean after marriage, said, “I have been exposed to violence for as long as I can remember. Mother violence, father violence, uncle violence, older brother violence, spouse violence… I couldn’t stand it anymore. I got pregnant at 12, miscarried. I couldn’t take it anymore and ran away. I went back to my mother. My mother had bought a house in another city at the time. She took us with her, ”she records.

Life after life fading away


“Life is really hard,” E.B. says. E.B., who said that she took care of her siblings while her mother went to work, said, “I never had a childhood. I started at the age of 14. I went for a week but couldn’t. I was so young. I was sitting at the tables, the men were starting to lick it here and there. I was crying because I didn’t want to,” she says.

E. B., who said, “Were there times when I was young, when we ran on the streets with my mother, didn’t we shut us up in a house and tell my mother we’d kill her daughter, you’d do the job…” says E. B., saying that she loves her mother very much. She also states that her mother does not want her children to live such a life. Stating that 3 of 6 siblings do the same job, E. B. said, “After working for a week at the age of 14, I started again. And now it started as a profession. I also worked in different jobs. But no one helped,” he reproaches.

E. B. says that she fell in love at the age of 19 and made a second marriage. She broke up with her husband whom she had been married for 5 years, when she started experiencing violence. “I am 29 years old, I have 6 children. I didn’t know that to have many children is problem and ı did because of my ignorance. I have always seen that it is possible to become a family with many children. I am separated from my husband now. My husband took my 5 children, I have one. He doesn’t let me see the others,” she says.

‘Both for my child and for my brother…’


Talking about the cost of living, E. B. said, “I am looking after my child. You know how expensive a diaper is. Some people say, ‘Why are you doing this job?’ I don’t do it out of my own pleasure, I have to. Because I am a mother, I also teach my siblings. I have a sister who is studying at university. I really want him to read. Don’t be like her sisters. Build your own future. Don’t be a prisoner to a man. I will do my best for her to read,” she says.

E. B. says that when he first started working out, he had a hard time and could not lift. “After I entered the environment and started working, I couldn’t do it at first. That man touches here, this man touches there, you can’t do it, but you have to. Because I have a child, his father does not support. They say that the state supports, but it really does not. He gives 300 TL a month as child benefit or gives food. But they do not make a living with them, it is not enough. This is the latest situation, I came here to work. I entered the alcohol environment, I am an asthma patient. Sometimes I pass out, I can’t take it,” she says.

‘No one does this for pleasure’


E. B. says that some people think wrong about themselves. She says that there is a perception that they do this job for pleasure, but no one does this job out of pleasure, a little reproachfully, a little offended. E.B. says that there are some of his friends who committed suicide, “Because they don’t want to.”

“Sometimes I don’t even want to live,” says E. B. and she sheds tears over and over. It’s the same place where she stands: his child. “I can’t see 5 of them anyway. I don’t want anyone in my life. I became a woman whose life was played with. I didn’t have a childhood, I didn’t grow up. Now I’m getting on the swings, people are laughing,” her smile is half-finished on the corner of her lip.

Space, violence, prostitution…


We return to the places where he works again. As he describes it, it comes alive in our minds: “It was a very bad place. We worked for a day or two, and on the third day we were locked in the room. I had my friends with me. They didn’t get us out of there for two days. They were taking it at night. We were beaten when we said we wouldn’t work. Now they were closing us because this place was closed, you couldn’t go anywhere else. They beat us when we went to the tables and did not sit down. Our hands and feet were tied. They were even driven into prostitution. I’ve seen a lot of violence but I didn’t do it. I said I wouldn’t. I said I’m nobody’s property. I’ve been through a lot in my life already. One day I ran away on my way to the hairdresser. I told the hairdresser that I was being held by force, she helped me escape. I escaped by going to the bus station and traveling in the trunk.”

After escaping, E.B. comes to Van. She starts working here again. She tells a little about her customers: “Sometimes they beat us at the tables, I get angry. I fight, I say ‘who are you to hit me!’ They say, ‘If I’m paying you, you have to sit down’. They do not hold us by force where we work. But customers are pushing a lot.”

‘So that they are not like me’


E. B. explains why she is talking to us: “I am giving this speech for our daughters. So that they are not like me. I wanted to tell them to show the way for them. Life is so hard. It’s even more difficult now. Suicide is happening right before our eyes. It’s not a good life. I’m doing this job because I have no one to take care of me. Every sheep hangs by its own leg.”

We ask her about her relationships with the women they work with, her disappointed voice begins: “Women claim a table. She says you will not take other women to your table. But everyone does the same job. There is a lot of jealousy among women. Everyone says we should eat more. Sometimes there are fights between women. The woman beats the woman. As women, everything would be better if we took care of each other. I look from the outside, women support each other, this is a very good thing. I have a few friends who are supportive. There are women among us who protect each other. Women are now very tired of working in the space. There have been many people who have cut themselves and attempted suicide lately.

In a place called impossible, in the backyard of the city…


Is the profit enough? “Of course it’s not enough,” she says. Waving her hand from side to side. She says she doesn’t spend anything for herself, she only eats one meal a day. “I don’t eat so as to save money for my family. But it’s not enough. The tables we sit at say be with me tonight, I will give 5-10 thousand, but I do not accept it. I say what I earn is enough for me. I don’t want to go from one profession to another anymore. I don’t like this job anyway. There are those who do this, I respect it, everyone has their own preference. I can’t say anything,” she says.

Of course, E. B. has dreams. She says without us asking: “This is not the place I imagined. My favorites have brought me to this point. I didn’t want too much from this life. I wanted to be a judge. If I had the right to choose, I would rather be a woman who can stand on my own feet.”

Serhat News

Translator :Akif Coşkun

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The Backyard of the City: The Hostesses-Bar girls

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