Hundreds of women living in Istanbul enjoy seeing Bosphorus for first time

Hundreds of women living in Istanbul enjoy seeing Bosphorus for first time

A total of 300 women living in Istanbul saw the Bosphorus Strait for the first time in their lives even though they have been living in the city for 30 years, as part of a project carried out by the Maltepe Municipality. 

Women’s duties in this country are very difficult. Other than being subjected to violence, they carry the burden of life on their shoulders.

The municipality has been organizing boat tours on the Bosphorus for women who are confined to their houses for several reasons, including financial dependencies and the obligation to look after their relatives with disabilities. 

There were also women with disabilities on the boat and many of them experienced the joy of having a day off from their tiring everyday routines by having meals, dancing and listening to live music. 

The municipality chooses particularly those with disabilities and their families and picks them up from their houses. Guides and psychiatrists are also present in the tours.  

I strongly applaud Maltepe Mayor Ali Kılıç and his team because they’re doing a marvelous job. It’s impossible for one to not feel their desperation when you hear the women’s stories. 

They, in fact, actually know many places in Istanbul but only from TV series and movies. It’s a completely different thing to see and experience the city personally. They were very happy.

The tour on Aug. 7 was the first this year, but the practice started in 2015. Some 300 women from 18 neighborhoods will be able to benefit from the organization throughout August. 

A tour for working women will be organized on Aug. 26. 

Residents of Bağlarbağı and Esenkent attended the tour that I joined and we took off from Maltepe at around 9:30 a.m.

When Kılıç took the microphone to make a speech, everyone started applauding. 

“An Anatolian woman just like you raised me. My grandmother raised me. If I am the man I am today it is thanks to her,” Kılıç said, adding that he is aware of the burden on their shoulders. 

“I know that it’s you, women, who transform this society. I know the burden on your shoulders. I know that you sometimes want to slam the door and leave. You’re right in everything you say,” he said. 

It was a very sincere speech. The mayor is also a man like that; he is not like a politician. For one, he isn’t fake; he is very real and is not capricious at all. He makes you laugh. 

Kılıç is a mayor who applied his knowledge and experience here after living in Europe for 25 years. He is also a former journalist. He has been the beloved mayor of Maltepe for a while. 

“In a meeting with village heads, we learned that many of the women didn’t know certain places in Istanbul. They’ve been living in the city but only know the Bosphorus Bridge and the Maiden’s Tower from TV series. As the municipality, we started organizing these tours,” Kılıç said, adding that he doesn’t mention politics in any of his speeches. 

“Then I leave the women alone. We come across heart-wrenching stories and try to help as much as we can,” he also said. 

When asked about the lack of men on the tour, Kılıç said “they are in every part of life anyway.”

“This is a place where only women have fun. Psychiatrists are here to listen to the problems of women who can’t go to one because they are not able to get permission from their husbands,” he added. 

Kılıç was the only man among us who later got off the boat in Haydarpaşa, and the whole Bosphorus was left to us, women.

Everyone was hugging each other and taking pictures. We experienced half a day away from troubles and problems in the middle of the Bosphorus. 

There are women who choose to talk about their stories and those who dance non-stop to forget their problems at home. 

Yeter Türk, whose four children were born with disabilities because of consanguineous marriage, lost two of her children. Her other children, Güven and Gürkan, have both mental and physical disabilities. 

“I accepted this life. However, it’s impossible for me to see the streets,” Türk said, adding that her sons went out in public for the first time. 

Another woman on the boat, Ayşe, 46, said she lived with her husband for six years without talking to him.

 The mother of two said she founded a business with her husband but wanted to leave him and the job because of constant arguments. Her husband, however, didn’t allow her and threatened to kill her. After six years of no communication inside the same house, the man cheated on her and left her when she was suffering cancer. She is now trying to stand on her feet with her two children.   

Hamidiye Tekin’s story is also one that touches the heart. She is looking after her bedridden mother and sister who has MS. Her brother, meanwhile, has been in jail for 9.5 years, so she is looking after his children too. 

“Yes it’s hard, but I have no other option. I’m trying to be patient and not be sad. They are my family and of course I love them, but I couldn’t have a life. I’m 31 years old and couldn’t get married,” Tekin said, adding that the trip was a “luxury” for her.

“This trip is a luxury for me, I liked it a lot!” she said.