Kemal Ördek

Kemal Ordek on Bianet: “I’ve been trying to prove that I was raped for 2 years and 7 court hearings”

Kemal Ordek on rape, law and activism nearly two years after being assaulted in their home. The interview with Bianet was published a day before the court ruled on the case of sexual assault. Ordek claimed that one of the assailants in the attack on their home had also raped them. On May 24, the court ruled that there was no sexual assault. All three defendants were sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison for attempting to plunder.

Source: Çicek Tahaoglu, “Tam 2 Senedir, 7 Duruşmadır Tecavüze Uğradığımı Kanıtlamaya Çalışıyorum,” bianet, 23 May 2017, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186721-tam-2-senedir-7-durusmadir-tecavuze-ugradigimi-kanitlamaya-calisiyorum

The final verdict will be given on the president of Red Umbrella Association, Kemal Ordek’s case, on May 24.

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Kemal Ordek, a sex worker, a defender of sex workers’ rights for many years, was attacked at home by three people in 2015. One of the attackers seized Ordek’s mobile phone, also sexually abused them. Then they took Ordek to an ATM to take money from his account. Ordek saw a police patrol car at that moment, and managed to escape from the attackers.

Three days later, when we talked to Ordek, they were explaining in fear and anger how the attackers threatened him at the police station by saying, “We know where you live, we will be released anyway, think about it,” and what kind of dialogues were between police officers and attackers, “Don’t waste us for this poof, we understand each other right, my brother?”

That night, the attackers were released. They continued to disturb Ordek via phone for a while. And a nonsuit motion was granted for police officers who tried to argue Ordek out of their criminal complaint and were making Ordek wait and sit with the attackers in the same car and saying “the people of lut are still alive”.

Ordek, as an experienced human rights defender, pursued the violation that they were subject to at this time. Lawsuits were brought against three attackers, two of them were charged with robbery, threatening, and limiting a person’s freedom, the third was charged additionally with major sexual assault, and they were arrested.

Following the decision of the local court, prosecutor Turkay Turkler appealed the sexual assault verdict with the allegations of non-existence of “an evidence above suspicion, complete, certain and credible”.

On May 24 at 14.00, the trial will resume in Ankara for a summary judgment. Before the trial, we met Ordek and discussed the court’s approach to the sexual assaults, the consent issue and the vague borders of “activist Kemal and victim Kemal.”

“There wasn’t a discussion on consent, it was very important that the penalty was imposed according to the testimony”

Your lawyers described the fact that one of the attackers was punished for sexual assault as “leading case.” Could you explain the reason?

This was a leading case because it reflected the things we wanted to say as activists. In the legal struggle following the things I experienced, the concept of consent wasn’t questioned at court, and verdict was given according to the testimony. The court committee said “there is a sexual assault, it is a major sexual assault, there is a limitation on a person’s freedom, and there are crimes like threatening and insulting,” in consensus and approved a punishment that wasn’t requested, or predicted by the prosecutor.

From these points, it’s a leading case, but it ignored the robbery, which was lacking. Also, they didn’t issue an arrest warrant until the last hearing.

(more…)

Defendants at Kemal Ördek’s case to be jailed during trial

The court ruled to imprison the defendants who appealed the verdict of jail time and monetary punishment in Kemal Ördek’s case.

Source: Kaos GL, “Kemal Ördek davası sanıkları tutuklu yargılanacak”, 2 March 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=23206

The assailants who attacked sex worker and Red Umbrella Association rights advocate Kemal Ördek in July 2015 appealed the verdict of jail time and judicial monetary punishment. On their objection, the file was moved to the Ankara District Court.

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The hearing took place on March 2, 2017 at 11:45 at the Ankara District Court’s 17th Penal Office.

The court ruled to continue the prison sentence of suspect due to evidence of possible theft.

The court also ruled to arrest the two other suspects due to flight risk. One suspect appeared in court while the other did not.

What happened?

The fifth hearing of Kemal Ördek’s sexual assault case took place on Nov. 17, 2016 at Ankara’s First High Penal Court. Kemal Ördek had filed suit for death threats they received after the sexual assault and the case was finalized in October. Following that, the case of sexual assault and extortion concluded at the fifth hearing.

Ankara’s First High Penal Court ruled to punish the assailants who raped and extorted Ördek in their Ankara home with the crimes of qualified sexual assault, theft, threat, insult and depriving a person of their freedom. The suspects were sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.  

 

LGBTI Activist Kemal Ordek’s Attacker Convicted

A landmark decision has been issued about the three aggressors who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President Kemal Ördek. One of the attackers was sent to prison following the hearing after being charged with qualified sexual assault. 

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ Aktivistine Cinsel Saldırı Davasında Saldırgan Tutuklandı”, Bianet, 17 November 2016, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/180825-lgbti-aktivistine-cinsel-saldiri-davasinda-saldirgan-tutuklandi

Two people who attacked Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association President and LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek have been sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and a judicial fine on charges of robbery, threat and insult. The third attacker has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for qualified sexual assault in addition to the aforementioned crimes and sent to prison.

Evaluating the decision to bianet, attorney Deniz Aksoy said “Because the victim’s identity as a sex worker was taken as a basis, this penalty imposed on the ground of sexual assault will be seen as a precedent.”

What had happened?

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted in their house in Ankara on 5 July 2015. The police allegedly said  “Enough with this Tribe of Lot” and the suspects said “Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you? Don’t listen to what this faggot has to say.”

Following the assault Nils Muiznieks, the European Council Human Rights Commissioner made a written statement regarding the incident and called on the authorities to explicitly declare that they would not tolerate hate speech and crimes against LGBTI persons.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul MP Mahmut Tanal, CHP Malatya MP Veli Ağbaba and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Garo Paylan had brought the issue to the Parliament and asked the Minister for Interior Affairs Sebahattin Öztürk about the assault and what had happened afterwards.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made a statement regarding the assault of Ördek, reminding  Turkey the commitment it has made for LGBTI persons during the Universal Periodic Review and called on the authorities to take measures for the fight against homophobic, transphobic violence and discrimination.

The Hande Kader murder: No one hears our voice

The struggle to stay alive in Turkey where trans individuals are pushed to the city’s peripheries as well as the struggle to prove their existence finds life in a sentence that is repeated, emphasized, written at every demonstration: “Don’t be silent, shout, trans exist.”

Source: Rengin Arslan, “Hande Kader cinayeti: Kimse sesimizi duymuyor”, BBC Türkçe, 20 August 2016, http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-37141548

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“Hande was one of the nicest people in the world. She was very calm normally but also hyperactive. She always went to the LGBTI marches. She pursued a cause that she felt right until the end.”

This is how flat mate Davut Dengiler describes the 23 year old trans woman Hande Kader whose body was found in a forest in Istanbul last week. She was last seen entering a client’s car one night. Davut Dengiler, long hopeful to find Hande alive, ended up finding her in the morgue for unidentified persons in Yenibosna.

“I was about to leave the morgue. I felt a sense of lightness for not having found her there. At the last minute, a doctor there said, ‘there’s also a burned body, look at that as well.’ I did. I told them identifying features. They then looked at the computer, at the report. The doctor put his hand on my back and gave his condolences. I lost myself,” he says of that day.

He then explains Hande’s responses to other deaths, to trans deaths:

“She would go crazy when trans individuals were killed. She’d be so sad. She’d be so courageous the moment she left the house. She’d also be very restless sometimes. She had been stabbed and beaten before. This doesn’t happen only to Hande, it happens to all of them.”

‘The highest number of trans murders in Europe take place in Turkey’

According to Trans Europe’s data, the highest number of trans murders in Europe take place in Turkey. Globally, Brazil is the least safe country for trans individuals.

But “there is no safe country for trans people” as the institution’s 2016 report states.

Hande was someone who tried to call attention to trans murders in Turkey and the injustices she reacted against. She was among those who were in the front rows of demonstrations.  

But perhaps it is the images of Hande Kader that has been shared innumerable times on social media that best explain the trans woman who is still waiting to be buried due to identification, autopsy, and DNA testing processes. In 2015, police had banned Pride March organized every year by LGBTI in Taksim and tried to disperse the crowds using pressurized water, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. Despite it all, Hande Kader had not “dispersed” and stood against the police with stubbornness.

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At some point in a naive anger, she reproached the journalists who were recording the events. She said, “You take pictures but you do not publish them, no one is hearing our voices.”

Hande Kader and other trans individuals’ unheard voices came this time with the news of her death. In a way that no one wants to think or imagine: by being burned.

Her life, which she tried to earn through sex work, was always in danger. Just like all the other trans individuals who are forced to this, she worked on the street. Just like the others, she sought a way out but could not find it. Her close friend Funda says, “she did not like this work,” and adds, “but who would like it anyway.”

“There are very few trans individuals who die of natural causes”

The trans individuals I spoke to have two commonalities. One is that they are heartbroken by society with the reminder that people went out on the streets in millions after the murder of Özgecan Aslan, who was similarly burned and killed. The second is that nearly all of them have a story on how they “escaped death.”

Kemal Ördek is one of them. Ördek answers my questions and says they were “lucky” to survive an attack in their home.  

“There are very few trans individuals who die of natural causes. Nearly none. There are very few trans individuals in Turkey who have reached the age of 50 or 60. When you are pushed to sex work, it’s not possible for people to reach old age. They are killed. I don’t know how I survived. That’s the sad part,” Ördek says.

Ördek completed a degree in international studies in Bilkent University with a scholarship after ranking at the top in the exams and is pursuing graduate studies in sociology in Middle East Technical University. Ördek earns their living mostly through sex work.

“Do they have to be sex workers?”

Kemal Ördek is also the president of Red Umbrella, an association that defends the rights of trans sex workers. I ask them one of the questions that society often asks trans individuals: Do they have to be sex workers?

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Ördek says, “We are viewed not as people who can integrate into society but as the dirt of society. What grabs our attention most when we are walking on the street are the looks that see us as sexual objects. That the people who diss us do so through words that suggest they want to be with us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman or a man. We are humans who are sexual objects.”

In a time when women who make up half the world combat against inequality and discrimination in the workplace, it appears that trans individuals finding employment in the fields of their education is impossible.

“A never-ending mourning”

Ördek describes their feelings as “a never-ending mourning” when talking about the insecure, vulnerable, and fragile conditions trans individuals face and says,”

“When I first became an activist, I would not be able to sleep thinking about the kind of news I’d get in the middle of the night. Even now, my phone is at the highest ringtone when I sleep at night. I wait for news, someone will be stabbed, someone beaten and I’ll get called and I’ll have to go there immediately. This is a never-ending mourning and state of trauma.”

The identity reassignment process for trans individuals in Turkey is a long and painful one and many don’t dare to because of this. Because of this, trans women can’t change the [gendered] color of their IDs and can’t work in brothels where they may have more security.

Sinem Hun, a lawyer who works closely on trans identity reassignment cases, interprets the relevant gender reassignment article in Turkey’s Civil Law as “the whole of the processes that embody too many rights violations.”

“24 states in Europe require by law that trans people undergo sterilization”

Hun says the state “wants to see” that both trans men and trans women have to received surgeries for their genitalia to establish that the gender reassignment process has been done physically. At the same time, she says sterilization is mandatory.

Hun gives the example of Argentina where gender reassignment is based on the person’s statement and says they have applied individually to the Constitutional Court for the cancellation of the article that forces surgery. She hopes the article could be annulled.

“There are trans individuals who cannot change their identity for 5-6 years,” says Hun and emphasizes that there are very few competent microsurgery doctors for these surgeries and that these surgeries in Turkey are expensive and bring forth a difficult process.

Sterilization is an issue that European countries have yet to agree on. According to Trans Europe’s Trans Rights Europe Index, there are 24 countries that require sterilization for gender reassignment. Among them are Turkey, Russia, France, and Switzerland.

Hungary and Albania do not have legal gender recognition

Sterilization is not mandatory in 15 countries, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Spain.

Gender reassignment is not considered legal in Hungary, Cyprus, Moldova, and Albania, according to the Europe Index.

The struggle to stay alive in Turkey where trans individuals are pushed to the city’s peripheries as well as the struggle to prove their existence finds life in a sentence that is repeated, emphasized, written at every demonstration: “Don’t be silent, shout, trans exist.”

The struggle for society to accept their existence and the struggle to stay alive is together. Legal processes and democratic wins may determine when they’ll be equal citizens in Turkey and other countries but trans, LGBTI individuals, and their allies hope that Hande Kader will be a turning point in trans murders.

 

Kemal Ördek: ’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister Islam

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered.

Source: Kemal Ördek, “Su Testisi Tecavüz ve Bakan İslam’a Bir Soru” (“’Dying By The Sword,’ Rape, and A Question for Minister İslam”), bianet.org, 17 July 2015, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/toplumsal-cinsiyet/166083-su-testisi-tecavuz-ve-bakan-islam-a-bir-soru

I’m writing as a rape victim.

I’m writing as a theft, threat, and insult victim.

I’m writing as a trans and as a sex worker.

I’m writing as a rights activist.

I’m writing as someone who now thinks twice before going out.

I break out in a cold sweat; I tense up. I can’t do a thing without someone by me. For the last twelve days, it is as if I’ve been under house arrest. Just yesterday, I saw one of my attackers when I was out with my friends; I simply ran back home. It is as if they are everywhere. I try to stay away from people, but they are out and about. This is what they call justice.

Özgecan comes to my mind. Everyone cried for her and mourned her loss. They took Özgecan away from us, just like with all the other women they took away from us. An otherwise silent Turkey stood up for her, took to the streets, ached, trembled. We trembled.

With Özgecan, we relived a familiar story. We remembered all the sex workers and trans people who have been raped and killed for all these years.

Just yesterday, the entire country was startled when Münevver Karabulut was murdered by decapitation. Only a week later, when a trans sex worker was found in a trash can with her head cut off, everyone who had stood up for Münevver disappeared. Trans women and sex workers were left alone in a country of murders by decapitation.

Every sex worker and transsexual who was kidnapped and raped has ended up in deep loneliness. This has never changed. Don’t be fooled by the few strong voices that reacted to the attack I suffered. In all likelihood, there would not be any reaction if I weren’t a well-known rights activist.

Trans people, sex workers, the other women, the anonymous women whose lives are tested by violence, rape, and murder are also raped by silence. In the back streets, in invisible streets, in those “deserved” lives, rape occur every night. Because those women live the lives they “deserve.” Because those who “live by the sword, die by the sword.” Because they deserve rape and death is written in their fate.

We have a Minister of Family and Social Policies, whose faint voice we hear after every case of rape and death. She is someone who disappears, becomes quiet, and shrugs when the issue is trans women and sex workers. She is someone who is complicit in the silence that rapes us…

I have a question for Minister İslam:

Dear Minister: I’m a trans and a sex worker, and I was raped. I was robbed, threatened, and insulted. I was mistreated when I called the police for protection from the violence that I suffered. One of your officers told me, “but you weren’t raped.” Another one lamented that, “this Tribe of Lot isn’t extinct yet.”

I am thankful that I am alive. What I do can’t be called living, but still. My friends advise me to look on the bright side and be thankful that I am alive.

Dear Minister: you are everybody’s minister, is that right? This “everybody” includes trans people and sex workers too, right? If your answer is yes, I ask, why are you silent about what happened to me? The investigations are ongoing and you’re still silent. If a lawsuit begins, are you going to stand by me? Are you going to get involved in it? Are you going to stand by a trans, sex worker, rights activist who was raped and brutalized?

Or am I, are we, going to be considered as people who “deserve” what happens to them? When one of us is killed tomorrow, will there be only 2-3 people to say a final goodbye? Are we, the members of the Tribe of Lot as some of you say, going to continue to be “disciplined” by violence, rape, and murder?

Dear Minister, is your silence fair? We may not be women in your eyes; we may be “immoral.” But are we not human either? Are your “conservatism” and your “religious and human values” silent in the face of violence?

I, your citizen, a trans, a sex worker, a rights activist, a victim… When were we made to be so lonely?

Dear Minister, I invite you, your Ministry, and your government to stand by me. I keep hoping for the faint possibility. If you take a step, it will send a message to rapists.

Before we die again…

Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists: We do not hide, We are not ashamed

On 15 July, Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists gathered to protest the police attack on the Pride March, said “Neither AKP nor men will be able to prevent our love between women or our going out to the streets to shout for our freedom.”

Source: “Lezbiyen Biseksüel Feministler: Saklanmıyoruz, Utanmıyoruz”, (“Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists: We do not hide, We are not ashamed”), bianet, 15 July 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/166052-lezbiyen-biseksuel-feministler-saklanmiyoruz-utanmiyoruz utm_content=buffer32896&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Lesbian and Bisexual Feminists were gathered on 15 July in front of the Kadıköy Pier to protest the police attack on the Pride Parade.

Women pointed out that hate speech against LGBTIs are being disseminated with religious excuses and stated that this behavior imprisons women in the male dominated family, love and sexuality.

At the press release read before the march from the Pier to the Bull Statue, they said that the reason for the attack LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was exposed to is the AKP government which targets LGBTIs.

The following statements appear in the press release:

“We have something feminist to say to the ones who want to narrow our lives, force women to stay in their houses and LGBTIs in ghettos by using ideas of public moral and decency!”

“We refuse to be imprisoned in male dominated sexuality. Neither the AKP government who prevented the Pride Parade using Ramadan as an excuse nor men will be able to prevent our love between women or our going out to the streets and shouting for our freedom.”

“We will be in Taksim next year for the Pride Parade, as [it] has been for 13 years. We will win, love will win.”

HDP’s Paylan submits Parliamentary Question to Minister of Interior on LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek, Discrimination, and Violence against LGBTI

Garo Paylan, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

Source: Bia Haber, “Garo Paylan’dan LGBTİ Aktivisti Kemal Ördek’e Saldırı Hakkında Soru Önergesi” (“Parliamentary Question on LGBTI Activist Kemal Ördek from Garo Paylan”), bianet.org, 15 July 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/166058-garo-paylan-dan-lgbti-aktivisti-kemal-ordek-e-saldiri-hakkinda-soru-onergesi

Garo Paylan, an HDP member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted on Sunday, 5 July, at their home in Ankara. In response to an officer’s comment, “Enough with this Tribe of Lot,” the assailants allegedly responded “We are real men, officer; you would understand, wouldn’t you?” and were subsequently released. Ördek spoke about the incident to bianet.

Following the attack, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made written statements and called on Turkish authorities to take effective measures against homophobic and transphobic aggression and discrimination in a written statement. Republican People’s Party Members of Parliament Mahmut Tanal (Istanbul) and Veli Ağbaba (Malatya) introduced the issue to the parliament with parliamentary questions.

The parliamentary question that Garo Paylan submitted to the Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk includes the following questions:

  • Is it correct that Kemal Ördek called the police for help, but was ignored and scolded by the police?
  • Is it correct that one officer commented, “Enough with the Tribe of Lot,” referring to Kemal Ördek, and that some other officers teased them due to their sexual identity?
  • Has an administrative investigation been started about the officers involved?
  • What is the number of similar attacks against LGBTI individuals between 2010-2015 according to official records?
  • How many LGBTI individuals lost their lives or sustained injuries as a result of similar attacks in the last five years?
  • What kinds of penalties have Directorate of Security employees received as a result of investigations conducted in this subject?

Rape and Police Violence Carried to Parliament with Tanal’s Parliamentary Question

Mahmut Tanal, the Republican People’s Party’s member of parliament from Istanbul, submits question to Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the experiences of trans activist Kemal Ördek.

Source: Kaos GL, “Tecavüz ve polis şiddeti Meclis’e taşındı” (“Rape and Police Violence Carried to Parliament”), kaosgl.org, 11 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19823

Following the rape in their home and exposure to police violence of trans activist and Red Umbrella Association member Kemal Ördek, a parliamentary question was submitted by Mahmut Tanal.

The question encompassed the involved police officers’ covering up of the event and their use of offensive language, as well as the release of the people who allegedly committed the crime and their continued threats to Kemal Ördek over the phone. The following questions were posed to the Minister of Interior:

  • Are the allegations that on the night of these events, when Kemal Ördek asked for help from the police, they were not taken seriously and were reprimanded by the police officers, despite being the victim, true?
  • What was the legal justification for Kemal Ördek being brought to the police station alongside the suspects in the same car? Has any inquiry about the police officers who did this been started?
  • Are the allegations that upon entering the police station one of the police officers said, “Enough of this Tribe of Lot!”, that the other police officers mocked the victim for their gender identity, that the police officer who took the victim’s statement tried to make the victim sign a record of statement, different from their own and that this police officer interfered with the victim’s statement-giving true?
  • Has an inquiry regarding these police officers and other public officials been started by the Ministry?
  • What administrative sanctions will be taken towards these officials?

Kemal Ördek’s Interview with Bianet: “No place is heaven for Trans people, hell is everywhere for sex workers”

Kemal Ördek: “1 in every 2 sex worker has experienced police violence. 50% of all perpetrators are police officers. [Apart from the police,] the perpetrator profile includes clients, organized crime groups, family members, neighbors, boyfriends, and so on. Access to justice is very limited, which points out to the need to execute legal support projects. Only 25% of sex workers who were targeted with physical violence appealed to the legal processes; only 10% of this 25% [i.e. 2.5% of all participants] believe that the perpetrators received the penalties they should have received. This is a horrible situation; access to the justice mechanisms is almost nonexistent.”

Kemal Ördek

Kemal Ördek

Source: Dilara Şenkaya, “Translara Hiçbir Yer Cennet Değil, Seks İşçilerine Her Yer Cehennem” (“No place is heaven for Trans people, hell is everywhere for sex workers”), Bianet, 4 July 2015, http://bianet.org/biamag/diger/165748-translara-hicbir-yer-cennet-degil-seks-iscilerine-her-yer-cehennem

Kemal Ördek has been the chair of the Board Of Directors at the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association since 2013 and is a seasoned LGBTI rights activist. They tells that Red Umbrella was founded because, while everyone debated sex workers, sex workers themselves were excluded from these debates.

Both the founders and the Board Of Directors of Red Umbrella consist of sex workers, which conducts studies on challenges that men and women sex workers experience, their demands, and the violence directed at them. They bring together sex workers and organize trainings in various provinces of Turkey. They organize similar trainings for lawyers as well, informing them of the issues at hand.

Ördek reports that the projects that are born of home visits and interviews produced positive results and that awareness among the sex workers they were able reach out to has increased significantly. Ördek continues: “We also conduct studies jointly with universities; for instance, last year, sex work studies was a mandatory course at Ankara University Department of Law graduate program.”

Another primary objective of the Association is to change the sex work legislation.

We met with Kemal Ördek when they arrived at Istanbul for Pride Week and discussed sex workers’ rights struggle.

Ördek explains that, as long as it does not include violence, threat, or coercion, sex work needs to be legalized, which would additionally lead to a decrease in sexually transmitted infections since sex workers would be able to freely access healthcare without being discriminated against: “Everything starts at legal recognition and guarantees. The current atmosphere of dismissiveness needs to be addressed; dismissiveness also means precarity.”

“What were the results of the ‘Project for the Mapping of Violence against and Legal Support for Trans Sex Workers’?”

We collected data on the physical, sexual, psychological, and financial violence that sex workers experience. Additionally, we have identified various restrictions, obligations, barriers, and needs in terms of access to justice, towards the solution of which we have developed policy proposals. Violence was widespread in all regions. For instance, in terms of physical violence, the rate of sex workers who experienced one or more types of violence was 75%. The sexual violence rate was 55%; psychological rate, about 68%. These are excessive rates. What is more, these are only the reported cases; the real prevalence might be much higher.

1 in every 2 sex worker has experienced police violence. 50% of all perpetrators are police officers. [Apart from the police,] the perpetrator profile includes clients, organized crime groups, family members, neighbors, boyfriends, and so on. Access to justice is very limited, which points out to the need to execute legal support projects. Only 25% of sex workers who were targeted with physical violence appealed to the legal processes; only 10% of this 25% [i.e. 2.5% of all participants] believe that the perpetrators received the penalties they should have received. This is a horrible situation; access to the justice mechanisms is almost nonexistent.

In comparison with examples worldwide, what are the differences and deficiencies in terms of social visibility and laws?

There is no single example. There is a multiplicity of examples even within Europe. Serious problems are observed in Serbia as well as in Netherlands and England… In fact, violence is widespread worldwide, whether in the east or the west. And no place is a heaven for trans people either. Both observed and reported rates of violence as well as the visibility of the cases may be decreasing with increasing levels of education, however, this does not mean that violence is non-existent. Violence shifts to other areas, for instance the rate of financial violence increases. I had said that, in terms of sex work, no place is a heaven for trans people. Yet for sex workers, hell is everywhere. Worldwide, only New Zealand and Australia’s South Wales practices a legal model where sex work is decriminalized. It has either been criminalized or somehow punishable everywhere else in the world. That is why it is not productive to study countries comparatively; one needs to focus on each country separately.

What are the social and legal demands and expectations of sex workers in Turkey?

Sex work needs to be decriminalized. As long as they do not include violence, threat or coercion, all activities in this area need to be decriminalized. Arguments such as “mediators will exploit, some new criminal networks will emerge” are nothing but excuses. The current Turkish Criminal Code is of this nature and still is a total failure. To the contrary, it targets sex workers.

Our demand is the punishment of acts that involve keeping someone within this industry using coercion, threat, blackmail or violence because these already are rights violations. Anything beyond these are covered by individual consent. Prostitution [“fuhuş”] is perceived as a crime in and of itself. As the state legitimizes this perception by inscribing it as law [and policy], the perception of the society at large also falls in line. The state is obligated to reorganize the law in a way that will eradicate this perception from the public sphere and to produce social programs towards that objective.

How do the problems that men sex workers experience from those that women sex workers experience?

Because men sex workers are not visible, their problems remain invisible. As the problems remain invisible, the rights violations too become excluded from the public view. At that point, men sex workers cease to have opportunities to request justice. Because documentation and reporting are impossible, strategies for legal remedies cannot be developed. Apart from their existing invisibility, they also do not know how to become visible. They do not know that there exists non-governmental organizations that are attentive to them. As such, projects towards increasing men sex workers’ awareness towards the issue cannot be developed. This invisibility exists for women sex workers as well. Any visibility that comes to existence in this field stands on and develops through misinformation. Police reports, studies, the women whose names are mentioned, they are all dismissed and ignored in news production that pays no attention to sensitivities.

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What are the projects planned by the Red Umbrella?

First, we have training programs that strengthen individuals’ capacity to access the justice system. Second, we have projects aimed at raising awareness among bosses and parliamentarians on the high-handed and illegal practices by the police and the governors that sex workers endure. Furthermore, sex workers rights-based physical improvement of brothels will be among our advocacy efforts.

We continue to work with the United Nations Population Fund on the fields of sexual and reproductive health. In addition, in September, we will be organizing a high level meeting at the UN that will gather together the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Turkish National Police, academics, representatives from non-governmental organizations. This meeting will be the venue to discuss the relationship between HIV/AIDS and sex work towards producing proposals. In December, we will be carrying out a project in Ankara where authorities from the Directorate of Public Health and chairs of the commission against prostitution [“fuhuşla mücadele komisyonu”] will be invited.

Lastly, would you like to share your comments about the police assault against the 13th Istanbul Pride Parade?

They did not allow our Pride Parade, the sole goal of which is to announce that we are not ashamed of being LGBTIs, that we are subjected to rights violations, and that we have certain demands for rights. Not only did they not allow that but they assaulted us horribly using TOMAs [armored water-cannons], plastic bullets, and tear gas. We were [physically] paralyzed during the intense attack. The police assaulted and mistreated many LGBTIs. I was personally insulted by the police. We had no guns, no bombs. Only our rainbow flags and our slogans for equality. Nevertheless, we witnessed a showcase of intolerance. What this implies is that the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] is terribly afraid of our voice, which is becoming louder and louder with each passing day. The government is spooked by the increasing numbers of members of parliament, municipalities, celebrities, and various social classes who support us. They cited the month of Ramadan and talked about religion and ethics, but what they painted with their actions is a kind of worldview that is void of kindness, compassion, and understanding, which are the very principles of the religion they claim to practice. They disallowed our walk, which did not generate a single problem for 13 years, and violated those who disclaimed “this is our right.” The state terrorism had LGBTIs at its target this time around. I think a new era is beginning. In this era, I believe that LGBTI organizations will experience increased amounts of harsh [i.e. illegal/violent -Trans.] state practices. Precisely because of that, everyone ought to be side by side with LGBTIs.

Raped and Assaulted, LGBTI Activist Kemal Ördek says: “I’m not well…”

One of the founders of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association (Kırmızı Şemsiye), Kemal Ördek, was raped in their home on Sunday. Kemal Ördek shared the following text with us in Turkish and explained the violence, the discrimination, and the fear. 

Source: Kemal Ördek, Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association’s Facebook Page, 2015.

It’s so difficult to write this when my body, my soul aches.

All I want to do is scream. I want people to hear me and then I want to hide in a corner, break away from this world.

How many times does a person cry after all that happened? How many times does a person shake and shiver when they think of what happened?

For years I have been engaged in rights advocacy to bring visibility to the rights violations LGBTIs and sex workers face. So it’s not that I don’t know what this is; I know what discrimination and violence mean.

Up to today, I’ve been beaten twice and hospitalized. I’ve been raped twice. I know very well what rape means, the dominating way manhood descends on me, and the pain of being in the midst of helplessness, alone.

Two men who came to my house… Three men who stole my phone… One more man waiting outside the house. One man who raped me. Three men who wanted to take my cash along with my phone… Three men who threaten me with death… One man who strangled me… One man moaning “I will fuck you, take your money, and come and fuck you again!”… Three men who are at my door and who say “think about what will happen” if I refuse to give them money… Three men who are the same as threats, rape, death.

In the middle of this hypocritical manhood, a sex worker, an LGBTI… A rights advocate…

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 18.40.02What I will tell you is not a simple robbery case. It’s not a mere rape case either. This is the story of a series of events that could possibly end in murder. It is a story of the apathy and the denial and ignorance that come after—the story of the surrounding paralysis of a lonely sex worker and an LGBTI.

“We’ll fuck you, take your money, and fuck you again…”

Two people, they stole my phone. One raped me. At that moment, they spoke to another person, who I found out was their relative, on the phone. They gave him the address of my house. I tried to resist and not open the door when the third came to my house. I somehow managed to convince the two people who insulted me and who were in my home. This time, they demanded money along with my phone. They threatened to kill me. When they realized I did not have cash on me, they took me out to withdraw money from the ATM. The third person joined them. They threatened me on the way to the ATM and said they wanted all of my money. One took me by the arm and said he’d “fuck” me. They told me the three of them will come back to my house after taking out money and “fuck” me. They said if I resist “my ending will be bad”.

I saw a police patrol car at the corner of the road ahead. The people taking me to the ATM through threats became anxious when they saw the police. They said that we’d take a different road and find another ATM. I spoke softly and told them I would not make a complaint and give them the money. I don’t know how but the person in charge believed me. To get to the ATM, we’d have to go near the corner where the patrol car was parked. As we were passing the police, I screamed and ran to the police. I told them they detained me, that they wanted to rob me, that they stole my phone.

“Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you? Don’t listen to what this faggot has to say…”

As I tried to explain myself to the police, the police shut me up. They said, “Be quiet. Don’t speak unless you’re spoken to!” In the meantime, the policemen calmly listened to the perpetrators as they said: “Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you? Don’t listen to what this faggot has to say…”,  “Officer, he invited us in, you know how they are…”

One of the two police officers searched them loosely and somehow they did not find the cellphone belonging to me on the assailants. I told the police to search them properly and that they had my phone. The police who was searching them said he searched them and could not find the phone. He asked me several times if I was sure that they stole my phone. They found a pocket knife on one of them and when they asked about it, the assailant said “it’s nothing important, officer” and the issue ended there. One of the perpetrators repeated “Officer, he’s lying, don’t believe him”. The police officers started to put us in the car. Two police officers in the front, three assailants in the back, and me in the “cage” at the very back of the patrol car, sealed off with iron. They thought I deserved to be in the place reserved for the guilty. When I said “I feel nauseous, officer, I think I will puke, why I am in here, I’m not well”, the police complained “what, are we going to deal with you, just get in, look at the trouble we found ourselves in”.

“Don’t even dare to make a criminal complaint, we’ll kill you…”

There was a thin iron bar between the perpetrators and me, stuck in the back seat, and an intimate chat between the police and the perpetrators… “Where are you from, officer?” “We’ll be fine, right, brother policeman? I mean, we have families and everything,” “Don’t make us suffer because of this faggot, you and us, we understand each other, right brother?”

As this conversation went on, one of the perpetrators turned to me and threatened me, “I’ll kill you by fucking you over and over, don’t even dare make a criminal complaint, I’ll chop off your head, we’ll kill you.” When I shouted, “They are threatening me, don’t you see, officer?”, one of the police said “Cut it out, don’t annoy us,” and the other told the perpetrators, “Don’t be scared, if he makes a claim, you’ll also make a complaint for slander.”

“I’m the head of an association, what you are doing is a crime, you have to stop them from hurting me”

When we arrived at the Esat Police Station, I told one of the officers that they witnessed that the perpetrators threatened me many times in the car and that they have to do something if they do it again. I said that this was not the first time I experienced something like this, and that I, as a head of an NGO, knew the steps that should be taken against this type of crime—also that their tolerant attitude towards the perpetrators constituted a crime. The two officers, who treated me really badly only 10 minutes before, started to say that they friends of LGBTIs/sex workers: “I know a lot of transvestites, I know you. I don’t discriminate in terms of kind, don’t you worry.” I was astonished.

We’ll bounce you on our lap, who the hell are you, faggot!”

The perpetrators kept threatening me even though we had arrived at the police station. They made threats and insulted me many times in front of the police. “Drop this case. You know what will happen if you don’t,” “We know where you live now. They’ll release us anyway and you’ll have to deal with the consequences.”

I stated to the police repeatedly that they must prevent this, that I do not feel safe, do not understand how they could make me sit with the assailants and they will be responsible if something happens to me. Nothing changed except they kept a one meter distance between us. I waited for several hours for processing while being threatened.

“Will you drop the charges if we find your phone?”

While they were continuing to threaten me, one of the perpetrators kept on approaching me, saying they’d find my phone, and asking me to drop the criminal complaint. Almost all of these dialogues between me and that person happened in front of the police. The perpetrator confessed that he had the cellphone and would eventually give it back to me if I dropped the complaint and met him outside the police station. I told the policemen who were listening to record the talks that they witnessed since it was finally understood that they actually had my cellphone. Nonetheless, all went up in thin air.

While this conversation kept going on, one of the police officers went out with one of the assailants, talked for five minutes. Did some kind of bargaining. Then came inside and called me outside. Took me near the police vehicle and started to talk: “Will you drop the charges if we find your phone?” I told them that I want to first see the phone. The police officer took the phone out of his pocket; my SIM card was taken out. I took both of them back at that moment. Turns out the assailants had thrown the phone inside the police vehicle when they were taken in. The police told me that. I said I will file criminal charges.

“Enough with this Tribe of Lot”

I called my lawyer and sat on a bench in the garden of the station while waiting. In the meantime, a police vehicle came and the police who arrived in it passed by me. After learning about the case, one of them passed by me saying, “Enough with this Tribe of Lot”. I started to shake because of anger. I came to the police station to find justice, found myself in the middle of prejudice, hate and partisanship. Additionally, the assailants came out to the garden and started to verbally attack and threaten me.

“These people rose against the government during Gezi…”

When my attorney arrived, we sat together outside of the station to talk. It was time for the pre-dawn (sahur) Ramadan meal and there were officers sitting around in the garden and eating… Oh, they began… They were talking about me, laughing out loud, saying things like “Look what a big deal he made out of a small incident of robbery”… One of the policemen said loudly to the others, “These people rose against the government during Gezi”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I started to shake and cry out of anger.

“You were not raped…”

While the assailants were taken to the hospital for a health check, the policemen who were going to take my statement came up to us and asked what happened. My lawyer stepped in and said I am a victim of violence so I should not be traumatized repeatedly, therefore an explanation cannot be given to him. The police officer got angry and said, “I did not ask you, Ms. Lawyer”. A loud argument began. Like this was not enough, the same police told me, “You were not raped, how are you coming up with all this…” The police, the ones who would take my statement, were telling me whether I was raped or not.

“What kind of lawyer are you, do not make our job difficult!”

After going to the hospital to get the health report on the beating and rape, we went back to the police station. I was raped and 6 hours had passed. My statement still was not taken. After surviving such a crisis, we waited for hours at the police station to deliver the statement. There wasn’t even any other work at the station… Since we first arrived at the police station, there was no one else there except me, my lawyer and the assailants. Which strong willed or patient person could wait this much when there are a victim of rape, threats, robbery and psychological violence? When is it reasonable to make a person wait this long? What part of this is correct or understandable? It seemed like they were saying do not make a criminal complaint and just leave.

An officer came out from the statement room and came to ask for our signature for the police report. When I read it, I saw that the police wrote the report from a one-sided view. Most of it were the assailants’ statements. I told them that I would abstain from signing it. The officers got angry and started to yell at me. When my lawyer stepped in and stated that I do not have to sign it, all of a sudden 5-6 officers surrounded us and started to snap at us. At that moment, one officer yelled at my lawyer, “What kind of lawyer are you, do not make our job difficult!” This psychological torture went on for five minutes. I did not sign the report, demanded that the police write down a statement with their own handwriting saying that I abstain from signing the report. They did that.

“This statement is too long, keep it short…”

We were taken to the statement room 7 hours after I arrived the police station. I started to give my statement. Sure I was giving my statement but the officer who taking the statement and who had told me a few hours before “you were not raped…” kept on interfering. Towards the middle of the statement, he “warned” (!) me saying, “But this statement is too long, keep it short. I am being lenient and understanding here. Just describe it briefly”. My lawyer intervened and said I can give my statement however I want, that all the details are important. The officer got angry at my lawyer, raised his voice and said he has to deal with a lot of work and that things like this are not done this way. I was in the middle of seeking justice in a system that does not even allow me to give my statement as I want…

“You’re free to go…”

I signed my statement and applied for a decision of protection and restraining order. The day I wrote these lines, the day after the attack, I found out that the perpetrators were let go without even being sent to the court by the prosecutor. That means that the three people who tried to rob me, who raped me, and threatened me with death are free and walking around in Ankara. But I, the victim, have to hide. I can’t go to my house since the event. The perpetrators keep calling me on my cell number… I don’t pick up but I’m scared.

Thank you for all the genuine messages…

I’m not answering my phones. I’m not picking up calls from anyone other than my friend who I’m staying with, one or two close friends, and my lawyers. I’m not ready to talk. I’m not picking up calls from numbers I don’t know for security. It’d be good to text me if you want to cover this for news.

I’m crushed psychologically. I know so many people tried to reach out, they gave their kind messages through others. I thank you all. Feeling you by me strengthens me.

So how am I now?

How am I?… Not well. I feel lost in between. I have not rested either. I aim to rest but I can’t. I am scared of the people I see when I walk on the street, I keep checking what’s behind me, I’m at my friend’s house and I can’t go anywhere other than this neighborhood, I can’t go to my usual sports, I’m cleaning out my social media accounts…

In short, I’m scared, I have nightmares, I wake up, I have nightmares again. I feel stuck. Every conversation reminds me of what I lived. I want to be alone and get away from everything but at the same time, I want to get rid of the fears I have when I am alone.

My dear lawyers are following the investigation. Of course I can’t stay out of it. I need to get away from it all but I can’t. I have gotten used to running around for victims but when it’s me, I can’t. My psychology is not well, my physical strength is not there…

The perpetrators are free. What am I going to do? What’s the attitude of the prosecutor, will they take the steps we want? How will the trial process be? Why doesn’t it all go quicker? Why are people not sensitive to sexual assaults? Will I forever lead a nomadic life? Do I have to change cities? Why don’t the legal authorities make the effort to solve this situation of stuckness that I feel? How correct or healthy is it to try to prove rape? Isn’t that raping my brain?

I can’t go to the association’s office, I can’t do my work, I can’t follow the process, and when I do, I am traumatized again. I relive what happened a thousand times a day.

I’m not well…

A short but important final note… “Do I have to get killed for you to say two nice things”

“Why did they take so many people into their house”, “What was their goal?”, “There, you can’t get rich easily…”, “Did they willingly invite them in, who knows what actually happened that this happened…” I heard these from LGBTIs, sex workers, activists. If you can still ask these questions after such a terrible experience, if you still try to say that I “made a mistake” after all this, if you cannot say “get well”, then I don’t need you around me.

If we don’t make each other feel better, then we don’t need to continue our struggle together. Know that you, also, have tired me as much as the perpetrators of the violence and the police.

Kemal Ördek, trans – sex worker – rights advocate

LGBTI Activist Attacked in Their Home: “They’ll release us anyway: You’ll have to deal with the consequences” 

One of the founders of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association (Kırmızı Şemsiye), Kemal Ördek, was raped in their home. The police commented, “Enough with this Tribe of Lot.” The assailants who said, “Officer, we’re manly men. You understand us, don’t you?” were released. You can also read Kemal’s letter

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu. “LGBTİ Aktivistine Evinde Saldırı: Nasılsa Serbest Kalırız, Sen Düşün” (“LGBTI Activist Attacked in Their Home: “They’ll release us anyway: You’ll have to deal with the consequences”), Bianet, 8 July 2015, http://m.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/165878-lgbti-aktivistine-evinde-saldiri-nasilsa-serbest-kaliriz-sen-dusun

Founder and chairperson of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association Kemal Ördek was robbed and raped in their home in Ankara. A police officer at the police station reacted by saying “Enough with this tribe of Lot.” [1]

It has been three days since the attack. At the police station the assailants threatened Ördek by saying, “We know where you live now. They’ll release us anyway and you’ll have to deal with the consequences.” The assailants are free and they continue to harass Ördek on their cell phone.

Kemal Ördek’s attorney told Bianet that the prosecutor who is responsible for the police station in question released the assailants without a trial. At the moment, the case is in the hands of the public prosecutor. Four attorneys continue efforts to collect evidence.

They took Ördek to an ATM to withdraw money

Kemal Ördek is an activist who has been working for LGBTI and sex workers’ rights for years. Two men appeared at their door on Sunday night. One of them raped Ördek and they confiscated Ördek’s cell phone. Then, they called a relative and gave them Ördek’s address.

The two men demanded money from Ördek. When they found out that they did not have any cash at home, they took Ördek to an ATM machine. Ördek spotted a police car near the ATM, ran to the police and described what had just happened.

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“He stabbed, washed his hands and got on with his life”

Source: Mehmet Bilber, “Bıçakladı, elini yıkadı ve hayata karıştı. Trans İdil’e bunu yapan aramızda,” (“He stabbed, washed his hands and got on with his life. The person who did this to trans İdil is among us.”) Radikal, 03 December 2013, http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/bicakladi_elini_yikadi_ve_hayata_karisti_trans_idile_bunu_yapan_aramizda-1164136

He stabbed, washed his hands and got on with his life. The person who did this to trans İdil is among us.

Violence against LGBTT people does not ease down. The latest victim of an act of violence is 26 year old İdil. She survived a knife attack by chance. İdil was in the hospital for 10 days and identified the perpetrator through city surveillance cameras but he still has not be found. Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association’s lawyer Ahmet Toköz stated that there has been no investigation or a capture operation. The President of the Red Umbrella Association of Sexual Health and Human Rights  Kemal Ördek said that as of November there have been 5 trans women murders this year.

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