(This is my memories of a visit in the late 60′s to a Turkish Women’s Prison/Brothel while I was stationed in Izmir, Turkey and may not be suitable for all viewers. I have no independent corroboration for The Compound, other than what I saw with my own eyes, and the stories told to me by other GI’s.)
One of the places that we were practically REQUIRED to visit in Izmir, Turkey was a place called “The Compound.” It was a place to visit on a Friday evening, and in a group. That’s how we did it, a couple of the older guys that had been stationed in Turkey for a while, and about three of us late arrivals.
Izmir was a typical Turkish city, I suppose, with main streets pretty well lit, and the farther away from them on side streets, much darker.
The Compound was pretty dark. The entry was a gate between two buildings, with a couple of guards manning the entry. Mostly they chased off kids, and turned back any women that might have wandered up. But mostly kids, who are pretty much kids, no matter where they are in the world.
Our group was pretty obviously all men, and we didn’t even get much of a cursory glance as we passed through the entryway.
The gate opened onto a one block street, walled over at the other end. There were a couple of low powered dim street lights casting a murky glow over the street. The three story apartments lining both sides of the street had light shining from all the curtainless windows, as well as through the open entry doors, so even though it was murky and dim, you could still see. Sort of like a carnival at night.
There were no automobiles parked along the street, but there were a couple of street vendors selling cashews and kebab. But that wasn’t why all these men were here, crowding the street. All the men were here because of what else was in all these rooms looking out on the street.
The windows had women looking out, and quite often, calling down to the throng. I’m pretty sure that I saw some boobies! Unfortunately/fortunately, I was a young, still idealistic kid, and these woman were “not beautiful.” Perhaps one or two out of the whole throng MAY have been noticable, but that’s about it. No Turkish Delights here!.
But, what could I expect? This was a Turkish Women’s Prison/State Run Brothel. According to the old timers accompanying us, this was a program for some of the women prisoners to “work off” some time on their sentence! I actually saw an old fashioned shiny brass cash register right inside one of the entry halls!
I know that prostitution was illegal in Turkey, so I easily believed that the state might want to work out a deal with these prisoners. The way this was all set up, I really have to believe that participation in this “business” was voluntary, and probably made up of mostly arrested prostitutes.
Of course, there were many stories about the place, and more than likely, a couple of urban legends. I won’t go into them, some could be quite unsettling. However, according to “facts,” a prison doctor inspected the girls twice weekly.
I didn’t know what this all meant, but I did know that, as far as Moslem countries go, Turkey, thanks to the machinations of the heroic Attaturk, was a very liberal and secular country. Attaturk, the former leader of Turkey, had practically single-handedly dragged Turkey out of its 17th century third world situation, and made it into a functioning member of Europe.
So, Turkey had bars for tourists and non-practicing Moslems, and prostitutes, just like other modern European Countries.
For what it’s worth, myself and my companions strolled up and down the street of the Compound, and marveled at the sights that we saw. After we had seen everything worth seeing, we left (without partaking, thank you very much) and returned to our local Air Force NCO club to talk about what we had seen.
We knew that we were not in Kansas anymore, Toto!