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Istanbul Journal; ´Natasha Syndrome´ Brings On a Fever in Turkey
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 08 Aug 2008 Fri 06:09 pm

The "Natasha syndrome" has caught Istanbul when a mix of Turkey´s own changes and those of the world around it have presented the city with something close to an identity crisis.

Since 1950, its population has increased tenfold to an estimated 10 million as people from the Anatolian hinterland have propelled themselves here. A trader in the bazaar, who offered scorn in return for anonymity, said: "They think the very streets are paved with gold. And they bring the village with them." Other changes have been just as great.

In the decades when Turkey represented the easternmost bastion of the Western alliance, its borders were closed to the very lands, most notably the Soviet Union, that formed its geographic neighborhood around the Black Sea.

Those countries are all technically free now. For the most part, their citizens -- Georgians and Azerbaijanis and Russians and Ukrainians -- do not even need visas. And they are coming to a land that has offered to lead the countries of the region in a new Black Sea economic union. Fundamentalists Win Election

"Istanbul is becoming Constantinople again," said Zeynep Attikan, a political scientist and journalist.

By referring to the city´s name during the Ottoman Empire and before, she meant that the city had again become a metropolis for those who found leadership and inspiration here.

It is also becoming much more of a mess, pulled apart by competing notions of what being an Istanbuller is.

In four out of six poor boroughs contested in municipal elections last year, Islamic fundamentalists swept the field, reaping political gain from what one diplomat called their "Tammany Hall" readiness to welcome the new immigrants from Anatolia and find jobs and homes for them.

Equally, though, parts of the city aspire to be a Milan of the Orient -- all fax machines and lookalike Ferragamo shoes -- just as other parts of it seem intent on determining how many apartment blocks can be squeezed through the eye of a building permit.

The public profile of morality is changing, too, as Western influences seep into a society numerically dominated by new arrivals from the Anatolian east.

In a city where the stern paternalism of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, once overlaid the conservative morality of Islam, the newsstands are suddenly selling local, although modest, editions of Penthouse and similar magazines (the bolder imported editions are sold in white cellophane covers).

Private Turkish and foreign satellite television stations have begun beaming slightly naughtier fare than the state-run stations had offered.

Then came the "Natasha syndrome." One young woman, 20, in the Lalileh district of Istanbul explained that she was "not a prostitute by education." She said she was facing unemployment back home and had come to Istanbul to accumulate "the money for a boutique in Bucharest."

She expected, she said, to accumulate up to $3,000, after overhead and commissions had been paid, within three months, and then she would go home, where her fiance was awaiting her and where $3,000 was quite a sum. But it could be a risky venture, she said, because the Turkish police have been known to behave harshly toward the "Natashas," whose job, while long tolerated in Turkey, is illegal.
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE6DB1638F934A25757C0A965958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

2.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 08 Aug 2008 Fri 08:24 pm

Turks pay $600 million to Russian prostitutes

Around $600 million a year makes its way to Russia via Russian women engaged in prostitution in Turkey, an expert claims.

The amount of foreign exchange Turks send to Russia by Russian prostitutes working in Turkey is almost half the amount of the foreign exchange entering Turkey through Turkish workers in Germany, said Professor Hurşit Güneş at a conference in the eastern Anatolian province of Erzurum, as reported by daily Hürriyet yesterday.

Güneş said there are around 500,000 Russian prostitutes, 10 percent of whom work in Turkey. He claimed that each Russian woman engaged in prostitution in Turkey sends around $1,000 a month to Russia. “That makes $50 million a month. It means we send $600 million abroad in payments for prostitutes,” said Güneş.

Güneş said that Turkish economists calculate the foreign exchange coming from Turkish workers abroad and claim that there are still deficits in the economy. “They count the foreign exchange sent to Turkey by workers abroad, but not the money sent abroad through Natashas (Russian women engaged in prostitution in Turkey),” said Güneş.

Güneş also claimed that given that the fact that around $75 million worth of drugs pass through Turkey each year, is the reaseon there is an excess of dollars instead of euros.

RADIKAL

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