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Kumkapı is a neighborhood that is home to many African immigrants who are trying to survive in a foreign country after they fled their homeland.Boasting a constant cacophony from peddlers and police sirens, Aksaray is also home to neon-lit bars that double as venues for prostitution. While searching for an alternative way to return home, I found myself on a side street.Many of them find that prostitution is the last resort.They eventually become sex workers, even while telling their families at home that they work in factories or stores.This Turkish expression refers to a dog-eat-dog world.In this regard, Aksaray and Kumkapı are the table of wolves in Istanbul.And if you are drunk, pickpockets try to make you talk longer so as to rob you more easily.“Watch out, the guy that you’re talking is a thief,” an African woman warns me.
At some point, some start collecting money to send back home.
The neighborhood is within walking distance to Kumkapı, meaning African sex workers are frequently seen in the bars. In the middle of the chaos of Aksaray, the street had an authentic atmosphere.
The sex workers, all of whom were Africans, were waiting for customers on the street, but seemed shy and fearful. But it took me three months to cover that distance to photograph their lives.
Africans charge 100 to 150 Turkish Liras from their customers, who include people from all economic classes.
I learned from “the guy talk” in the street that “demand” for African sex workers was higher as a result of sexual fantasies involving well-rounded hips. The boyfriend of 26-year-old Jessica is a worker at a factory. Like other African sex workers, she pays a rent higher than the normal value despite the terrible condition of the house.
Luciba, a 23-year-old Zimbabwean, arrived in Turkey five months ago.