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"Women’s Day? I have never heard of it." - Syrian women's stories: Volume 2

3 April 2019

Together with the journalist İpek İzci and the photographer Selçuk Şamiloğlu (Istanbul & Eskişehir), Recai Güler (Bursa), we visited UNFPA Turkey's European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funded Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS) in Istanbul, Bursa and Eskişehir to talk to the Syrian women to hear their experiences. These stories were published on Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet on 10 March 2019. This is the second part of the collected stories. 


Zülafa Muhammed, 21 – İSTANBUL   

“Women’s Day? I have never heard of it.” - Zülafa Muhammed, 21 – İSTANBUL   

Women’s Day? I have never heard of it. We came from Afrin five years ago. Because it is too humid in the house, we get ill very frequently. We could not pay the rental fee for the last two months. The landlord pressures us to pay it. At times we have no milk and nappies. Recently I took my daughter to a doctor; we were kicked out in the real sense of the word. My mother-in-law and her family are in Syria. They say, ‘’The conditions are very challenging here. We wish we could also come to Turkey.’’

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler

 


Hanife Muhammed, 16 - İSTANBUL

“I wish we had all gone to school instead of working” - Hanife Muhammed, 16 - İSTANBUL

In 2014 we came from Aleppo. I began to work in a textile mill when I was 12 years of age, where I was earning 50 Lira a week. They treated me very rudely; they shouted at me, saying: “You cannot do your tasks. Why did you come here? Turkey is not a suitable place for you. You are very disgusting’’. Now I am at the seventh form. My schoolmates call me ‘’Syrian, the doormat’’. My brother works as marble master. I wish we had all gone to school instead of working.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Zeynep Hamo, 39 - BURSA

 “They jokingly told us “Please vacate the house’’” - Zeynep Hamo, 39 - BURSA

I had a daughter who was 14 years old. She was diagnosed with bone cancer. We were told, ‘’You cannot get her treated in Damascus; there are no drugs available here. Go to Turkey.’’ But my daughter had died before we came here. Three months ago our landlord told us, ‘’Would it not be better for you to move into another house?’’. We always pay the rental fee in time; we did not understand what she meant. Then the husband of the landlord gave us a ring, saying: ‘’It was only a joke. We wanted to see what you would do’’.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler

 


Eman Hagabdalh, 61 - ESKİŞEHİR

“Is my case a rare one?” - Eman Hagabdalh, 61 - ESKİŞEHİR

I feel sorry for both sides when I hear negative media coverage about Syrians. The Turks may have right in an incident, but perhaps the Syrians are in the right. The problem might also arise from the fact that because Syrians cannot speak the language of this country, they might be misunderstood. People I have so far met have treated me well, always showing great respect. Is my case a rare one? People of Eskişehir have played the greatest role in this respect.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler

 


Maisswn Hamdan, 45 - BURSA

“Blowing out the candles on the cake, the wish I would express is to be naturalized in Turkey.”- Maisswn Hamdan, 45 - BURSA

Women in Syria are held in higher esteem than the women in Turkey. Anything we ordered was sent directly home. My neighbour in Istanbul taught me Turkish; now I can do my own shopping in the weekly market. My three sons are at home; they can find no jobs. Only one of them is working, caring for six people. I thank you because I want to make ourselves heard. My birthday is on 8 March. Blowing out the candles on the cake, the wish I would express is to become a Turkish national.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler

 


Hanan Al Jasım, 30 - ESKİŞEHİR

“I got married with my cousin when my husband died.” - Hanan Al Jasım, 30 - ESKİŞEHİR

I came from Aleppo to Eskişehir one and a half years ago. My husband was a teacher. He died two years ago during the shellfire of Russian aircraft. Before coming here, I got married with Cesim, my cousin, son of my uncle. He has a co-wife (refers to the one he married under civil marriage rules). A total of ten people, living in two households. 

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler

 


Fidan Habeş, 51 - İSTANBUL

“My son’s middle toe is missing.” - Fidan Habeş, 51 - İSTANBUL

We have had difficult days. The neighbours do not treat us well. Nobody says ‘’How are you?’’. We were not desert people in Syria. The war has made us into what we are today. In Syria we saw corpses scattered all around. The daughter of my brother went insane in the war. A bomb fell into our house, wounding my son at his hands and feet. (She cries) Now he can no more move his big toe, and his middle toe is missing.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Esma Habeş, 42 - İSTANBUL

“My Turkish neighbours are nicer than my mother-in-law” - Esma Habeş, 42 - İSTANBUL

The employers of my husband paid him less wages just because he is Syrian. The utility bills are jointly paid in the building where we dwell. Our overall consumption is not very high, but we pay more, willy-nilly. When the war broke out, we went from Aleppo to Afrin, to my mother-in-law’s. My-mother-in-law did not like me and the children; she beat us. Our Turkish neighbours do neither good nor evil to us. They are nicer than my mother-in-law. But when children make some noise, the neighbours make a complaint to the real-estate broker against us. I don’t know why the neighbours do not visit us at home. At the UN Women’s Health Counselling Centre I had an interview with a psychologist and told her about what my-mother-in-law did. She told me: ‘’You are such a strong woman that you could combat with what you experienced’’. Hearing such a comment made me feel very good.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Büşra Muhammed Er, 22 - İSTANBUL

“Because I am a Syrian, people tried to pass at me.” - Büşra Muhammed Er, 22 - İSTANBUL

I was working in a textile mill. Boys tried to pass at me because I am a Syrian. It was hard; in the end I became ill, and I had to leave job. Five months ago I got married with a Turk. His parents treat me well. But my sisters-in-law say: ‘’You were poor in Syria. You have no idea how to buy original things’’. but it is all the same to me; I just say: ‘’They are speaking foolishly’’.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Esma Al Saidi, 35- BURSA

“I feel very lonely” - Esma Al Saidi, 35- BURSA

I feel very lonely. I have no relatives here. I haven’t seen my sister and my parents for eight years now. For a few years they stayed in Lebanon. Then they went to New Zealand. My sisters-in-law and my mother-in-law are in Syria. They say: ‘’The condition is very bad here. Stay there, do not come here.’’ I have three children who are four-and-a-half, eleven and twelve years of age. On the way to Turkey they saw dead people. They don’t like Syria.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Meryem Al Mahmud, 55 - ESKİŞEHİR

“For me, happiness is there where there is no fear.” - Meryem Al Mahmud, 55 - ESKİŞEHİR

It would be a lie if I say “I am happy here’’. For me, happiness is there where there is no fear. At home we never speak of the war. Not even a minor suggestion of it, out of fear. Over time we got fatigued and older. Our neighbours complain that we are burning tyres in the stove, but we have no firewood.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler