Yesterday evening an unknown man was buzzed into our building, entered our apartment through the door we often leave open and offered my flatmate money for sex. After a clear refusal in Turkish, English and Spanish, a violent struggle and threats to call the police he eventually went home, and we were left feeling terrified and dirty.
The consensus about the event among my Turkish friends is as follows: that it is known in the neighbourhood that our apartment is occupied by young foreign women, who are probably not Muslim and definitely without the support of a large family bent on avenging insults to its women. Our brothers, fathers and uncles are far away, and we probably act like the American women in gossip magazines anyway, so will welcome advances. And if we don`t like it we can go back to where we came from.
Other things I find difficult to adjust to in İstanbul are the poor record on women`s liberation, the high birthrates, the tradition of the hostess never sitting down during a meal but continuing to serve throughout, the constant and indiscriminate leering by men of all ages and the incredible statistic that only 10% of Turkish women are in employment.
It all makes the Ed/Yvette leadership issue look very, very trivial.