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The registered brothel in Antep wants to be closed due to the reason that it “does not suit Antep”.
Antep Governorship and Antep Metropolitan Municipality, which have told landholders at the brothel that if they “don’t transfer their properties without making any trouble, they would have to make use of the brothel’s land in other ways”, gravel on the road to the door of the registered brothel.
Women working at the registered brothel say this graving practice is some sort of harassment and add, “There are also people with heart problems and cancer here. Ambulance cannot come here in case of an emergency”.
But the women’s most important problem is what they will do if the registered brothel is closed.
Speaking to bianet, Leyla says “We are devastated”. Leyla works and stays at the registered brothel. She has two children studying in another city.
“How are we going to pay our debts if this place is closed? How am I going to pay the rent of my children? How am I going to afford my mother’s medical treatment? They don’t care about us, or in other words, they don’t see us as human.
“We are not captives nor slaves here. We pay our taxes. Don’t we have rights to have our children receive education and to have a comfortable life? We’ve chosen our path. What are they protecting us from? If they want to protect, they can buy us a home, grant us early retirement. They sit pretty, they play with money because they don’t need it. Don’t we have any right? Aren’t we human?”
Stressing that a large number of Syrian women, who had to flee during the Syrian conflict, have been forced to sex labor, the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association emphasizes that the Governorship and Municipality, which overlook this unregistered growth, wants to close this registered brothel, which was legally established, is inspected at regular intervals and is medically suitable.
"This place is under doctor control unlike the ones who work outside”
There are 12 apartments and some 60 women work at the registered brothel, which is not located in the downtown. The registered brothel has employees other than sex workers; cafeteria workers, hair cutters, cleaning workers. So, there are as many as 100 workers in addition to the sex workers.
Leyla tells no one has been certified for 19 years and no new workers are employed. “Now they are throwing us in the street”, Leyla says. “This many women work here, and there are other workers too. Imagine the circumstances of the families of this many people”.
Leyla as well stresses the registered brothel under routine control is safe for both the women and the customers. “This is a big city. There is an increasing prostitution outside and there is no medical examination for the women outside. If you want to solve the prostitution completely, start from the outside first. This place is under doctor check”.
“They closed the windows with black film, we cannot see daylight”
The only material pressure against the registered brothel is not the gravelling. In March, Ethical Bureau teams launched a huge operation into the registered brothel. According to women’s statements, minutes were written down for every apartment.
Three minutes means the cancellation of the registration.
“They start writing down minute when they see us at the window”, Leyla says. During this process, closing the windows with black films was made obligatory. “We suffocate”, women say. They cannot see daylight and their conditions are more and more turned into prison conditions, they add.
“Residents of Antep go to the registered brothel, authorities say ‘it doesn’t suit to Antep’”
Red Umbrella Association President Kemal Ördek says they try to reach the authorities about the issue but their request of appointment is directly rejected.
“There is demand for the registered brothel and it is natural there is supply as long as is demand. Furthermore, this supply is realized in a lawful way”, Ördek says and adds that it is hypocrisy to close the place based on ethical excuses.
“Residents of Antep go to the registered brothel but the authorities elected by these people claim a registered brothel doesn’t suit to the city”.
“The thing we need to understand is this: These women have right to work and they continue to work here by making necessary legal applications. Closing the registered brothel means to expand the unregistered area. This means sex work in uncontrolled, unhealthy and unsafe environment. This is what doesn’t suit to Gaziantep.
“On one hand, the authorities try to prevent sex work on the streets, on the other hand they close the registered brothel, which is medically safe and safeguarded against violence. And while doing that, they don’t consider the negative conditions in which the women and their family will suffer”. (ÇT/TK)