Queen awards Turkish woman for support to victims of sexual assault
Emine Kart - ANKARAQueen Elizabeth has recognized the continuing efforts of a Turkish woman who has been working for more than two decades to provide “support to victims of rape and sexual assault in Turkey.”
U.K. Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore personally delivered an honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) to Nazlı Hamitoğlu on June 1, before hosting the queen’s birthday reception.
Moore said he was “proud to award” an honorary MBE to Hamitoğlu who has pioneered support for victims of sexual assault over the past 21 years with the consulate.
An MBE is awarded for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community and is also awarded for local “hands-on” service which stands out as an example to other people.
“I didn’t start doing this intentionally, but awareness about women becomes involved in the issue, and you come to a situation in which you cannot turn a blind eye to the matter. After that, if you have the opportunity to help, you just become involved in it. I also have to thank the British Consulate for giving me this opportunity,” Hamitoğlu, 46, told the Hürriyet Daily News on June 1.
“As a citizen you can only do so much, but in an official capacity, the places you go and the people you talk to change. So this gives me a chance to help foreigners and consequently my own citizens. As a woman myself; may God forbid, one day I could be sexually assaulted,” she said.
“So it is good that the system is working quite well since it could be beneficial for me too although I hope it doesn’t come to that. It could be beneficial to one of my friends or to someone I know, too. That’s why it is of use that we improve the system. Besides this, foreigners could have other difficulties such as the language barrier and not knowing how the system flows. These difficulties first occur in the police station. They need to testify but they can’t. They can’t make themselves understood. When this happens, the other side misunderstands them and misjudges them. There is a culture gap. Some behavior that is normal to foreigners can be misjudged.”
‘Factory floor and empathy’
Hamitoğlu, a resident of Marmaris, is a graduate of the American Collegiate Institute in İzmir. Later, she studied business administration at Dokuz Eylül University.
“I am from Marmaris, and tourism always remained a part of me. I started working when I was 14 years old. I am on the factory floor of this job. I did hotel management and also worked in agencies. My main job is guiding tourists. [Working as a guide] gave me a big opportunity because I started working in the embassy knowing some information about the jobs of many people in various fields. So I can say that this experience helped me a lot,” she said.
“There is this situation where you need to empathize with the people there when you start working in an environment that you’re not familiar with at all. It is really crucial to know what they are thinking. This made my job very easy because I can do my job considering myself as an agent. Another example is that when there is an incident in a hotel, I approach the hoteliers knowing why they are acting in such a fashion since I’m an hotelier. Because we approach people without hurting them, we settle the matter amicably.”
‘Each other’s cure’
“Since I’m working in the British Consulate, I’m sometimes considered the right person for the job for the British. Moreover, because I’m Turkish, I become the right person for the job for the Turkish. But there is no such thing. Our main goal is to show people how things work over here, give them the necessary information and awareness. When we do this with the right wording, the British people show respect and the Turkish officials want to benefit from this too when they see our approach. You become each other’s cure for the problem,” she said.