"There so many big differences between life in Gaziantep and life in Istanbul. In Istanbul I feel free; I can take decisions on my own. But if I would live in Gaziantep, taking decisions on my own would not have been an option. […] When I first came here, I was afraid of the big city, […] but it is much nicer here. I love Istanbul."
Sibel T. was born 1981 as one of eight children in a village near Gaziantep in South East Anatolia. She is the only daughter in her family not to have been married at the age of 13. Today she lives in Rumeli Hisari with her 10-year-old daughter.
Sibel much prefers the modern life of Istanbul:
"Young girls are constrained in Gaziantep. A girl cannot leave the house alone or even talk to a young man. […] I cannot go out, go shopping or go for a walk on my own. Here in Istanbul, this is not a problem at all.
In Gaziantep, if a girl goes out with a young man, and their families learn about it, the girl might be killed. This has happened. They killed the girl. The uncle instigated the father to kill his own daughter."
When Sibel was a child it was uncommon for girls to attend school for more than five years. Today, education for both boys and girls is mandatory for eight years.
"My mother didn't go to school. My grandmother didn't either. My father and my uncles studied until secondary school. [… ] My mother might have wished for us to have a life different from hers, but she has always been curbed by our father. It's the man's word that counts."
"People said girls should not study […]. They did not want it. I went to school until the fifth grade […] But there is some development regarding girls' education: a few years ago there was social pressure not to send girls to school – a good girl was supposed to stay at home. Today, there is social pressure to [do the opposite]."
Sibel resisted wearing a headscarf when she was a teenager and her family accepted it. When she got married, however (at the age of 18), her husband made her wear it. Later she decided to stop wearing it again.
Sibel wants her daughter to get a good education to be able to stand on her own feet.
"There is a big difference between an educated and an uneducated person. I tell her about love and respect. I do want her to be strong and keep her chin up. She should be happy… I will tell her, that I will always stand behind her.'