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Night Time on the Streets of Istanbul

Safety In Turkey – Part 10

Is Turkey Safe?

When we were first contemplating the idea of going to Turkey, one of the questions that crossed my mind was safety. Was Turkey safe to visit? In retrospect this question sounds absolutely ludicrous. What makes a country safe? I have always thought of Australia as a safe country, yet I would advise any woman never to walk alone at night in Australia. My home in Krasnodar seemed perfectly safe to me despite the sad fact that Russia is considered, in some circles, as an unsafe place. So how can I rate Turkey as safe or unsafe if the criteria are unclear? I guess I can’t. All I can do is speak about my own experience and let you decide for yourself. 

From my two short weeks in the country I can say the following: 

Yes, the men in Turkey did seem to stare a little bit more often than in another countries. Although this could be because of the fact that I was usually wearing clothes (shorts and a sleeveless top) that not many local women wear. I can just imagine a woman in a headscarf entering a rural Australian pub and how many inquisitive stares if not inappropriate comments this would cause. So you decide for yourself.

Moda, Istanbul
Moda, Istanbul

I was with my husband most of the time so it’s reasonably understandable that no man tried to pick me up, flirt with me etc. I actually didn’t see any of this behavior anywhere in Turkey and a friend who was single during her Turkey trip said the local men were respectful and polite at all times. Does this mean every Turk is a saint? Probably not. Does this mean you shouldn’t take the appropriate measures that, unfortunately, most women incorporate into their daily routine? Not at all. Every country has its share of chauvanistc assholes.

Street Art in Moda, Istanbul
Street Art in Moda, Istanbul

Is Istanbul Safe?

Was Istanbul in any way visibly dangerous or threatening? Absolutely not. We walked down many a dark street late at night after all the shops had closed and not a soul was to be seen. Yes, I felt nervous. Yes, I quickened my pace. But this is more likely because of too many American horror films than due to any true feeling of danger.

Metro Station, Istanbul
Metro Station, Istanbul

All in all, what can be said. Yes, terrorist attacks have occurred in Turkey recently. As they have in many supposedly “safe” countries all over the world. The police presence is stronger and more severe and men do tend to ogle a bit more than is usual for us. There are also a lot of tourist scams around the place. But the fact is that Turkey is teeming with tourists, including single girls in mini skirts, that have amazing holidays without any major problems.

Read up about scams, consider how culturally appropriate your clothes are and take the necessary precautions.

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