Trans sex workers in Turkey

Sputnik: Turkish Constitutional Court rules sex workers cannot be fined on the Law of Misdemeanors

Upon the application of a transsexual sex worker, the Turkish Constitutional Court decided that police officers cannot issue fines against sex workers based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The high court approved the verdict with majority of votes and the decision would establish a precedent.

Source: “Constitutional Court: Sex workers can not be fined on Law of Misdemeanors” (“AYM: Seks işçilerine Kabahatlar Kanunu’ndan para cezası kesilemez”), Sputnik, 21.12.2017, https://tr.sputniknews.com/turkiye/201712211031491432-aym-seks-iscisi-para-cezasi/

According to a report by Deniz Ayas of Sözcü daily newspaper, a police squad issued a fine against a sex worker based on Law of Misdemeanors No. 5326 as she was waiting for clients in a 2014 incident. The sex worker protested the fine of 91 Turkish Liras and took it to the court. Yet the local court ruled for the law enforcers.

After the appeals procedures, the sex worker took the case to the Constitutional Court where her objection was evaluated. The detailed ruling was issued in the Official Gazette Thursday and included striking evaluations.

The verdict, which is to become a legal precedent was reached with a majority of votes and found the sex worker to be right, emphasizes that the procedure carried out based on the Law of Misdemeanors No.5326 dated March 30, 2005 cannot be valid.

The Law of Misdemeanors does not include prostitution bargaining

The reason for the ruling was stated as the noncompliance between the act of “disturbing others with the aim of prostitution” as reported on the administrative fine of the police officer and the article defined on Art. 37 of Law No. 5326; suggesting that in this incident the act “does not correspond to prostitution”.

“It cannot be fined”

 

It was stressed that the verdict was made based on the principle “No one can be fined due to an act which is not considered criminal based on the law in force at the time. No one can be sentenced to a heavier sentence than the one defined for that crime at the time the crime was committed”. As a result, it was decided that the right of the transvestite* was violated and that the 2 thousand lira cost of “judicial procedures” be paid to her. One member of Constitutional Court objected to the verdict.

Verdict sets legal precedent

The verdict sets a legal precedent for the practices that will follow. This means that the police will not be able to fine sex workers waiting for clients on the streets and avenues ‘just because they are waiting for clients’.

Translator’s Note: The original article uses the words “transsexual” and “transvestite” interchangeably. The article was translated verbatim so as to demonstrate the original wording of the reporting.

For more on the use of the Law of Misdemeanors, please see these translations.

Pride Committee: “We will be on the streets on Sunday to demand justice for Hande Kader and to stop hate crimes”

We feel great anger: our beloved friend Hande Kader was burned to death. The burned body of 23 years old trans woman Hande Kader was found in Zekeriyaköy almost a week ago. Hande was a person who raised her voice against hate crimes and encouraged everyone to raise their voices too.

We are constantly shouting at LGBTI+ Prides, Trans Prides and other protests that homophobic and transphobic statements are leading to hate crimes, murderers often escape unpunished, and hate crime laws are urgent. Unfortunately, our Prides have been banned in the last two years, yet we need to be seen, to be on the streets and to shout our demands in order to end hate crimes.

According to a Transgender Europe report, Turkey is the first in Europe and ninth in the world in trans murders. Trans women are forced to be sex workers and then they are labeled (as prostitutes) because of their jobs. We wish a world without homophobia, transphobia or ‘prostitute-phobia’.

Münevver, Özgecan, Wisam, Hande… We demand justice for all that lost their lives for being a woman, a trans or a gay. We are aware that the people who burned Hande to death got their strength from those who burned people alive in Maraş, Madımak, Cizre. We are repeating once again that the only way to stop hate crimes is to raise our voice together against hatred and hate crimes.

We are inviting every individual from this society to our march from Tünel to Galatasaray where we will demand justice for Hande Kader on Sunday, 21 August, 7 PM.

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

Trans Woman Burned and Murdered in Turkey

Hande Kader, a trans woman based in Istanbul, disappeared a week ago. Her friends and lover filed a missing person’s announcement. Hande Kader’s burned body was found in Zekeriyaköy.

Source: “Trans Kadın Yakılarak Katledildi”, Pembe Hayat,  12  August 2016, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=1187

Trans sex worker Hande Kader was last seen getting in her customer’s car about a week ago and has not been heard from since. Her friends and partner have reported Hande’s disappearance to the police.

hande_kader

Following the report, police initiated a search and rescue. During the operation, they found a burned trans woman’s body near Zekeriyakoy.

Hande Kader’s partner D. mentioned that Hande was wearing prosthetics which helped identify her burnt body.

In order to confirm the body’s identification, Hande’s family has been informed and the burial will be on hold until they arrive.

 

Another Transphobic Murder in Istanbul

 

On the evening of 2 December at approximately 20:30 in the Avcılar district of Istanbul, a trans woman was stabbed in the heart and killed on the street she worked.

Source: “İstanbul’da Yine Transfobik Cinayet!”, (“Another Transphobic Murder in Istanbul”), pembehayat.org, 2 December 2015, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=933

The trans woman, Alev, lost her life as a result of being stabbed through the heart by a man who approached her as a customer while she was working on the street.

While Alev died at the crime seen as a result of the transphobic hate crime that occurred around 20:30 today (02.12.2015), her friends rushed to the police station. The Avcılar police department also brought in Alev’s trans woman friends for questioning about the murder, which occurred in the Haramidere neighborhood.

Alev’s friends said that the murder was carried out by a man who approached her like a customer.

While the investigation about the crime is still ongoing, the murder suspect has yet to be caught.  

In the past ten days in Istanbul there have been two back to back transphobic hate crime murders. On the afternoon of November 23rd, a woman named Nilay was stabbed in front of her own home in Maltepe and then strangled with the sash of her robe. Following this, Alev lost her life as a result of a knife attack.

Following the lynching attempts at the Meis apartment complex, which began in 2012, many trans women in Avcılar have become a target for hate crimes.

Previously, a mob gathered in front of the homes of the many trans women who live in the Meis complex hurled threats at the women with torches in hand, and shot bullets into their houses. A lawsuit filed about the Meis complex attacks on the premise that they interfered with the right to housing is still ongoing.

Transphobic discrimination from the police

The Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association, which accompanied a lawyer to the police station after the murder, criticized the police officers’ disinterested, discriminatory and transphobic attitudes through a post on their social media. Istanbul LGBTI shared that while waiting with the lawyer, they heard the police officers say “There are so many fags, friend:”

“Alev gets stabbed in the neck with a knife in the area she works. She runs to the truck lot located in the area behind it and asks for help. But because her carotid artery was severed, she collapses to the ground before an ambulance can even be called.

“The murderer is among us right now. He could be sitting next to us on public transportation. Or he could be walking right behind us when we walk home.

“The police are saying, ‘There are so many fags.’ Now, let’s sit and think about this. Is the murderer only the person who pulled the knife on Alev? Of course not! The murderer is also the police and the state who say, ‘There are so many fags’ and take no notice of our right to life, instead of finding the perpetrator!

“Trans murders are political!”

The attack will be protested in Ankara

Following the transphobic murders that have occurred recently, the Ankara LGBTI organizations Pink Life, High School LGBTI, and Kaos GL have sprung into action. On 3 December at 18:30 there will be a press release to protest these hate crimes in front of the Yüksel Human Rights Monument.

 

Trans Support Line Set Up; Victims of Violence Will Not be Left Alone

The project carried out by the Istanbul LGBTTI Solidarity Association and supported by the Open Society Foundation aims to provide legal assistance to trans individuals and protect victims of violence. Work for the Istanbul LGBTTI Trans* Rights project began on 10 November 2015. 

Source: “Trans Destek Hattı kuruldu; şiddete maruz kalanlar yalnız bırakılmayacak” (“Trans Support Line set up; victims of violence will not be left alone”) Pembe Hayat, 30 November 2015, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=928

The project aims to prevent rights violations.

In tandem with the initiated  project, trans individuals in need of a lawyer will be able to use this help line in the event that they are victims of acts such as robbery, bodily injury, police violence, home invasions, or attempted murder. As this project is to be carried out in Istanbul, there will be a lawyer reachable 24/7 on both the European and the Asian sides of the city.

The General Secretary of the Istanbul LGBTTI Solidarity Association, Kıvılcım Arat, states that the aim of this project is to have the unrecorded trans-targeted violence, which therefore have no legal proceedings initiated, reported and brought to justice. Arat further noted, “We would like to bring the physical attacks to justice at the end of the year by reporting and recording them. Accordingly, we want to put pressure with lawyers in order to eradicate impunity in cases of violence targeting trans individuals.”

Arat, expressing that violence has become a mundane part of the lives of trans women sex workers, further stated, “Trans individuals put on their make-ups and continue working, right after being victims of violence, and they keep living as if it is an ordinary matter. The violence they suffer is not prosecuted even if they go to hospitals or to the police. We want to put an end to the cooperation of the police, the judicial system, and the state against trans individuals. Nothing is recorded when trans women who have undergone violence go to the police. We will prevent this violation of rights.”

*The word “trans” is used as an umbrella term. Anyone who defines themselves as a trans woman or man, transgender, transvestite, drag queen, or cross-dresser can ask for assistance in the event that they find themselves in a similar situation.

The phone number that trans individuals may call in the event they need a lawyer is 0538 560 32 22

 

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…

Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker in Turkey

3 suspects get 27 years and 6 months each for allegedly forcing a trans worker into their car in Izmir and raping her in a forest.

Source: Kaos GL, “Trans seks işçisine tecavüze 27’şer yıl hapis”, (“Three perps get 27 years each in prison for raping trans sex worker”), kaosGL.org, 11 July 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19822

On 22 September 2014, trans sex worker M.T. agreed [on a sex work deal] with Cengiz K. who approached her by car. When Cengiz K. also pick up his friends Çağlar Ş. and Erol K., M.T. wanted to leave.

The two people who got in the car later allegedly shut M.T.’s mouth and took her to a forest in Yamanlar. The three people raped M.T. and ran off with her jewellery after forcing her with a knife. Police quickly caught the three suspects through the car’s license plate. Çağlar Ş., Cengiz K., and Erol K. were arrested after being sent to the prosecutor.

The three defendants and lawyers attended the last hearing in Izmir 7th Heavy Penal Court. In the previous hearing M.T. had testified saying, “They threatened me and said, “If you don’t want to die here, do as you are told, we have a knife in the car, we’ll cut you.” They forcibly undressed me. They raped me taking turns without my consent. I’m bringing a complaint against the defendants.”

Defendant Çağlar Ş. said, “We did not forcibly do anything to this person. The person was already under the influence of alcohol when the person got in the car. We couldn’t agree on the money. Once the deed was done, they [1] demanded a high amount of money. When we told them that we won’t pay what they were demanding, they screamed and shouted and threw the money at our face. They are complaining about us because they found the money too low.”

Erol K. argued that they have been detained for a long time and are therefore victims and said, “The complainant isn’t even coming to the hearings. We have families, kids, and regular jobs. Our only fault is to have had a [sexual] relation with their consent. I defer this first to God and then to you.”

Cengiz K. stated, “Do you think a person who willingly hurts themselves and hurts without pity would pity others? I believe you’ll act justly. I defer this first to almighty God and then to you.”

The prosecutor gave the opinion to acquit the defendants for the crime of plunder but to punish them for the other crimes. After a short recess, the court president gave 27 years and 6 months of prison sentence to each of the defendants for “sexual assault” and “depriving the person of their freedom”. The defendants and their relatives reacted to the decision and the defendants were taken back to prison.

[1] The Turkish language does not have gendered pronouns and it is unclear how the defendants’ approached M.T.’s gender identity. The choice of “they” by the translator is to keep the quotes gender-neutral like Turkish- but it does not mean that the defendants’ respected M.T.’s gender identity.

Two transphobic attacks in Istanbul on 12 May

On Tuesday, 12 May 2015, 2 trans women sex workers were attacked in different districts in Istanbul (Fındıkzade and Bağdat Boulevard).

Source: Pembe Hayat, “İstanbul’da Dün Gece 2 Yerde Transfobik Nefret Saldırısı Yaşandı”, (“Two transphobic attacks in Istanbul on 12 May”), pembehayat.org, 13 May 2015, http://pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=766

Migel, a trans woman sex worker living in Fındıkzade, was attacked in her own apartment by a group of men. She was brutally injured with deep cuts on several parts of her body. She was brought to Sisli Etfal Hospital by her friends. The attackers were caught after statements to the police and prosecutor’s office. The attackers had previous records for robbery and assault and are in custody.

One night, two attacks

The same night, Işıl, another trans woman sex worker in Bağdat Boulevard, was attacked by a group of 5 men. She was assaulted and her jaw was broken. She is receiving treatment in a hospital. Her situation is stable but there are bruises on her body due to the assault. The attackers have not been found.

Attacks on trans women are increasing

Last week there were 4 attacks on trans women sex workers in 3 different cities (Istanbul, Izmir and Kocaeli). Pembe Hayat/Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association protested these attacks in Ankara with a press release.

Ankara Bar Association provides pro-bono legal support for right violations against LGBTIs. Trans residents of Ankara can contact the Gelincik Center for pro-bono legal aid from the Bar Association.

4 Trans Sex Workers Attacked in One Night

4 trans sex worker women were attacked last night [May 2, 2015] in the cities of Istanbul, Kocaeli, and Izmir.

Source: Bianet, “Bir Gecede 4 Trans Seks İşçisi Saldırıya Uğradı” [“4 Trans Sex Workers Attacked in One Night”], bianet.org, 3 May 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/164272-bir-gecede-4-trans-seks-iscisi-saldiriya-ugradi

In Istanbul’s Şişli district, a woman named Gülşen was found stabbed in her home. According to the statements by Gülşen’s friends, two men who were previously her clients came to her home and attacked her with a knife and a skewer. Trans women, sex workers, and supporters arrived at Şişli Etfal Hospital, where Gülşen was taken to. Gülşen was transferred to the ICU in critical condition following a long surgery.

Those who went to Şişli Etfal for solidarity reported that another trans sex worker woman was shot and brought to the hospital around 6am. The woman is reported to be in stable condition.

In Izmir, again on the night of 2 May 2015, a trans sex worker woman was stabbed in the back by unidentified persons.

The same night, in Kocaeli – Gebze, three trans women were assaulted by an armed client in the house where they had just moved in. One woman was hospitalized with leg wounds.

The Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association called on all trans women and sex workers for solidarity and said, in their press release:

“We are calling for respective law enforcement officers to find the assailants immediately and for the judicial branch to punish them accordingly. We are inviting the government and all sects of the society to act with genuine solidarity with trans sex worker women and meet their demands.”

Transphobic Attack Against Sex Worker in Mersin

İpek, a trans sex worker, was assaulted in a hate crime yesterday by two people after agreeing on terms. She was beaten, stabbed, and left for dead in a deserted orange grove.

Source: Alican Kalan, “Mersin’de seks işçisi kadına transfobik saldırı!” (“Transphobic Attack Against Sex Worker in Mersin”) KaosGL, 2 March 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18858   

Last night, İpek, a trans sex worker got in the car with two men. She was attacked before she could understand what was happening. She was then driven to an orange grove out of town, where she was stabbed and beaten to the brink of death before being left there.

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Sex Workers Penalized after Business Cards were Deemed ‘Pornographic Material’

Source: İsmail Saymaz, “Seks İşçisinin bastırdığı karta ‘Pornografik Ürün’ Cezası Verildi” (“Sex Workers Penalized after Business Cards were Deemed ‘Pornographic Material’”), radikal.com.tr, December 24, 2014, http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/seks_iscisinin_bastirdigi_karta_pornografik_urun_cezasi_verildi-1257674

19 individuals, consisting of alleged sex workers and those who allegedly printed and distributed their business cards, were handed down prison sentences by an Ankara court yesterday.

An unusual decision was made by a court in Ankara yesterday regarding 19 people – among them sex workers and their acquaintances, who allegedly distributed calling cards in public. These cards, which until today were processed as a misdemeanor for “pollution,” were deemed “pornographic material.” This way the court was able to hand down criminal sentences for “obscenity in places open to children.” The cards’ owner was sentenced to one and a half years of prison time in addition to a 5,000 TL  (2160 USD) penalty, and the person who allegedly distributed the cards was sentenced to two years of prison time as well as a 5,000 TL penalty.

An anonymous tip to the Ankara Police Department in 2012 reported that “passers-by are being harassed by way of dispersing and distributing cards for prostitution in front of businesses, schools and bus stops around the vicinity of the statue in Ulus Square.” The police responded by gathering the cards around the reported area and requested that the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication determine which women and trans individuals the phone numbers on the cards belonged to. The defendants were then identified.

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Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment in Istanbul

Source: “İstanbul’da Polis Tacizi, Ev Baskınları ve Gözaltı”, (“Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment”), Pembe Hayat, December 4, 2014, http://www.pembehayat.org/haberler.php?id=594

Over the last week the police have targeted trans women and sex workers in Istanbul. House raids were conducted targeting the homes of trans people working and living in Findikzade and Haseki regions.

The police arbitrarily detained trans women street sex workers the previous week and took them to the Venereal Diseases Hospital, also known in slang as“Can Can”. This past week they conducted house raids. The women were released after being subjected to blood tests.

The police acquired trans women’s phone numbers and addresses through the internet and social media and raided their homes. Women were detained without cause and some of the women’s residences were sealed by the police.

Transwomen who have been harassed by the police and who point to the recently passed “Domestic Security Blanket Bill” as the cause behind these arrests and raids, will object to the fines they are issued based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The new bill has created major concern among the LGBTI community and trans women sex workers.

Read “the New Domestic Security Legislation and Its Potential Implications for LGBTI Individuals” to access trans activist and lawyer Idil Su’s report.

News Media Analysis: “One less trans following each trans-related news”

Source: Michelle Demishevich, “Her trans haberinde bir trans eksildi,” (“One less trans with each trans-related news,”) P24, 13 October 2014, http://www.platform24.org/guncel/514/her-trans-haberinde-trans-kadinlar-bir-eksildi

The media has a direct responsibility for the discrimination and violence that target trans individuals.

For years, the media perceived news and updates on the LGBTI as if they were an undesirable workload. There are already very few journalists at news desks who have a mastery on the language of gender [as a social construct]. The making of LGBTI news requires significant sensitivity. Sentences should be carefully chosen. Yet a discourse of hatred, deployed through trans women, has been rampant in LGBTI news stories that appear in the media. Trans women have been represented as mean and wicked in news headings such as “transvestite terror,” “transvestites have spread horror,” “transvestites have entered into armed conflict with the police,” and so on. In the last few years, positive news stories by women who are sensitive to LGBTI, women, and gender have been effective, to a limited degree, in undoing this perception.

Whenever media published a story on trans women, a trans murder happened the very next day. Perhaps trans women were targeted by the news stories, or perhaps it was the deployment of the discourse of hatred that set the stage for hate crimes.

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Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Trans Çingene Gül Öldürüldü,” (“Çingene Gül, Trans Woman, Murdered in Istanbul,”) bianet, 9 October 2014, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/159065-trans-cingene-gul-olduruldu#

Çingene Gül, a trans woman, was found dead in her Istanbul apartment on October 8. While the autopsy is yet to be completed, it is suspected that she was murdered two days ago because her friends didn’t hear from her for two days.

Her neighbor Melek Emir said,  “Two nights ago, I heard noises from the apartment building. Gül never makes noise. At first, I thought somebody was trying to break in, then I heard the door open and close. I supposed Gül couldn’t find her keys or something. I never reckoned such a thing would ever happen.”

Gül’s street is crowded with police officers investigating the events and onlookers after her friends found her body. All the women in the neighborhood recognize Gül. “She smiled all the time, she would greet everyone on the street. She wouldn’t disturb anybody.”

Gül’s trans friends argued with the police in order to see her one last time. Police said they could do so in small groups provided that they wouldn’t cry out, touch her or bring disorder to the crime scene.

Her friends claim that trans sex workers are usually murdered by their clients – which they think was also the fate of Gül. They also said Gül didn’t receive customers in her apartment and preferred to use hotels or other venues. They also brought up the possibility of burglary. However, police said that it was not possible to know that at the time.

Utku who found Gül’s body and said, “I went to her apartment after not hearing from her. I knocked on the window, I tried the doorbell, but she didn’t respond. Then her upstairs neighbor buzzed me into the building. I had to break into Gül’s apartment via the backyard. She wasn’t in her bedroom. When I went to the living room, I saw her lying on the floor and I ran away screaming.”

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Demet Yanardağ: “Turns out I had to pay off the state to be a prostitute”

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Orospu olmak için devlete para yedirmem gerekiyormuş,” (“‘Turns out I had to pay off the state to be a prostitute”), KaosGL, 16 September 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17534

“It turns out that in order to be a prostitute in this country, I had to pay money to the state within the framework of the Law of Misdemeanors, grease the palms of the mafia as well as the police and at times, sleep with people for free.”

Below is the interview we conducted with Demet Yanardağ, from the Black Pink Triangle Association, where she recounts the difficulties she faced in her working life as well as the nature of sex work.

Yanardağ explains that she chose to study tourism and hotel management at university thinking that this was a relatively easy line of work where she would not be discriminated against. However, she says that “things did not work out quite as she [I] thought.”

demetyanardag

“Men think you are a sex doll”

“I thought that someone like me could work in the tourism industry, that I wouldn’t encounter people judging me. I graduated and soon found out that this would not be the case. Not a single hotel would hire me as an intern. I couldn’t find an internship. Then, a close friend of mine arranged for me to start interning at a five-star hotel. During my internship, both the hotel clients and the staff harassed me incessantly. People kept offering sexual relations in a way that could be considered harassment. That’s when I understood that if you are a trans individual, you have to be a sex worker. If you are employed in other lines of work, you will be harassed much more so than biological females. People see you as a potential sex doll. When men get boners, they see you like sex dolls they could use to satisfy themselves.”

As Yanardağ was continually harassed by hotel clients and staff, she thought to herself, “society allocates this role to me; I must be a prostitute.” Here is how she decided to become a sex worker:

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