I am a woman living in Istanbul and lately, I’ve been coming across a lot of articles titled “Why I left Turkey,” or some variation of that, in the local press. And since I moved here from Paris, every single person I know keeps asking me why the hell I did that. Oh, and did I mention I like girls?
According to the people I meet and hang out with in Istanbul, Turkey is currently sinking into a reactionary state thanks to the AKP—the conservative ruling party. In recent years, the rights of women, homosexuals, and basically anyone who doesn’t fit Tayyip Erdogan’s Ottoman fantasy have waned significantly. This is evident if you follow local politics, but also when you just walk on the street.
Since I moved to Istanbul in 2013, I have been followed in the street at least three times—both in a busy street in the afternoon as well as on a emptier one at night. A few times I have been insulted, and a few more times people have laid their hands on me. But the context of these misfortunes doesn’t really matter. The point is I haven’t spent one day in Istanbul without feeling objectified.