The Tale Of Two Brothels

Istanbul’s brothels are crammed in some side streets just up from the Galata Bridge in Karakoy. They are legal and entry is controlled by police. Only women registered as prostitutes and male customers may enter. Now two of the brothels will be closed down by the city, according to an article in today’s Milliyet newspaper (click here). It’s unclear what will happen to the many others or what the reason is, since the brothels are legal. They will be replaced by public parks. The decision was made by the Monuments Council on the basis of a law requiring that settled areas must meet suitable health and environmental conditions.

What caught my attention in the article is the persistent repeated reference (much more than called for by the content of the article) to the fact that one of the brothels to be closed is right next to the Surp Pirgic Armenian Church. Close by, the article points out, is the Saint-Benoit school [a French private high school hundreds of years old) and a synagogue. It also mentions the names of two women who own a number  of the brothel houses, one of them “Matild Manukyan of Armenian heritage”.

It’s odd that the brothel area would have been allowed for so many decades in close proximity to a church, a synagogue and a Christian school. I would have liked to read in the article something about the history of that area. When was the area formally declared a red-light district? And why there? I suppose the news about replacing at least two of the brothels with a park is good news for the neighbors, although in good Turkish conspiracy-theory fashion, I wonder what is behind the move. Is AKP moving against brothels? If so, why close only two of dozens? Will they be moved elsewhere? Is AKP reaching out to non-Muslim minorities by improving their urban habitat? It is clear, though, by its overemphasis on non-Muslim minorities in the article, that Milliyet was out to smear Jews, Christians and Armenians by associating them with prostitution.

14 Responses to “The Tale Of Two Brothels”

  1. Are you familiar with Matild Manukyan?

  2. Thanks for the link, Emre. Fascinating.

  3. Jenny,
    I know that you never have been to Amsterdam, but in the famous Amsterdam Red Light district you will see as many religious centres as bars..)!
    De facto: the oldest church in the Netherlands, built around 1250 is located in the heart of the Red Light district:
    http://www.amsterdam.info/sights/oude_kerk/
    kindest

  4. Emre, (off topic Jenny) how do you create a link on a comment as you did with Mathild?
    Also, I lost the url you wrote down here how to get old TDN articles.
    Thank you

  5. Regular HTML markup.
     
    http://arama.hurriyet.com.tr/defaultEnglish.aspx

  6. To hyperlinkify matild, for example, you write:
    .
    <a href=”URL”>matild<a>

  7. Correction:
    .
    <a href=”URL”>matild</a>

  8. A little bit of googling reveals some interesting details:
    .
    A lot of sloppy journalism to start with:
    .
    First: Apparently the name ‘Sümbül Yasar’ is a pseudonym; her real name was ‘Neriman Akarsu’ and she died in 2006 at the age of 82.
    .
    She must have been Muslim. Her funeral was held in secrecy at –of all places– Theology Faculty, Uskudar-Baglarbasi. Her workmates (prostitutes) attended the funeral in full –meaning the brothel was closed for that day.
    .
    She too was top taxpayer in Istanbul for several years. It is reported that the magnitude of her fortune is unknown.
    .
    The business was taken over by someone named ‘Ali Yildirim’ who also died later; leaving the brothel orphaned.
    .
    I find it interesting enough to note that under those two women (Manukyan and Akarsu) the business flourished. Only after their death, when men took over, things went all the way to south.
    .
    Rumor has it that if those two women were still alive, no authority on land (let alone the Istanbul Municipality, or the Patriarchate) could have closed those brothels down –such was their grip on the cojones of the ruling elite.
    .
    Anyway.
    .
    So much for oppression of women in TR, Jenny; wouldn’t you say ;)

  9. That women can be the oppressor of other women was established before. Or so I thought… ;)

  10. Nihat,
    .
    With due respect, I think you’re missing one important point:
    .
    Those women whom you seem to think the two tycoons oppressed didn’t leave the brothels until they both died.
    .
    On the contrary, the ‘oppressed’ attended –in full– the respective funerals.
    .
    Does that still look as if those women were oppressed.

  11. About oppressed women…
    Why are Turkish women, in general, the most tough one’s I ever met?.)
    I’m still trying to figure this out after being married to one for more than 6 years….and I see some good friends ‘happily’ suffering on a daily base..).
    Kindest
    hans

  12. Hans,

    Why are Turkish women, in general, the most tough one’s I ever met?.)
    .
    I’m still trying to figure this out after being married to one for more than 6 years..

    Does this mean you’re still ‘sampling’?
    .
    If so, your wife is either not that tough or not smart enough.

    ;)

  13. CA:
    I am tough enough, so my wife..)!
    But I see many Turkish men ‘suffering’…
    Is that why so many Turkish men choose a girl from abroad as their tarner?.)!

  14. Hans,

    I am tough enough, so my wife..)!

    Of coure, you both are. And, I’m so sorry: Should’ve guessed she reads this blog too ;)

    Is that why so many Turkish men choose a girl from abroad as their tarner?.)!

    I’ guessing here:
    .
    Maybe they think the ‘weaker sex’ reference is true.
    .
    And not finding it so at home, they turn to abroad.
    .
    Fools.
    .
    Little they know that ‘weaker sex’ is the oldest hoax/legerdemain in the book.

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