The Compound

(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!

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Comments

  • Les  On March 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I too, visited the “compound” (but did not partake of the
    Turkish Delights). I was based in Izmir in 1970-71 as a Sgt
    in the Air Force. I’m looking for pictures of the former
    Izmir NCO Club and base theater next door and the AAFEES
    newstand down the street. All were located downtown on Sair Esref Bulvari. If you or any other person on this site has
    pictures I would appreciate you contacting me at bklyn45H@gmail.com. Thanks.

    • macbuddha01  On March 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm

      About all I have are a couple of newspaper clippings of the NCO club in a story about the strike. I am currently without a scanner though.

  • Les  On March 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    If the stories include pictures of the club, please send to
    me whenever you are able to. Thanks.

    Les Le Gear

  • bob  On August 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I visited the curahani (sp) compound in Ankara a number of times. My understanding is that a turkish woman guilty of a
    crime could do straight time in prison or half-time in the compound. After enough drink a few of the girls were passable. I felt bad since they had to have sex with dozens of men all day long. A real horror story I read about was that an American wife of a Major was thrown into the compound in Adana. I’m not sure a believe that she stayed there long, but it was not hard to get into to trouble in Turkey, a strict Muslim country with a bias against foreigners. I liked Turkey, learned the language and “Practiced” in the compound.

  • macbuddha01  On August 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I heard that the American wife was a ministers wife,and the minister spent all his time with her so that she never had to do anything. Truthfully, it sounds to me (cynical guy that I am) like it was a local urban legend among the local GIs. Especially since it was, as I understood, voluntary. I also enjoyed my time in Turkey, way back in the day. It was pretty secular at the time, with bars serving alcohol and everything.

  • R. G. Simmons  On August 29, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Yeah, I visited the compound back in 1999. Most women were not attractive at all but there were a couple that looked pretty good. The only problem was that there were about 50 guys standing their staring at them.

    I wondered why they just stood there. Were they horny but broke or something?

    • macbuddha01  On August 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

      The were “window shopping,” I assume. Myself and my friends were there just to look, and I assume most of the rest of the crowd was there for the same reason. Pretty inexpensive entertainment. I agree with your assessment. They certainly were not up to Playboy Channel standards. Of course, they WERE prisoners.

  • Anonymous  On November 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    ….Was stationed in USAF in Karamursel end of 66/67/68 left in April of 68…visited Compound couple times in Bursa….the article above is just as it was!!!..”.I can even smell it as I read it”…I’m glad to read this piece, and have as evidence…I have told many people about the compound in Turkey and most did NOT believe!!!!!…I am sorry to say that “I did participate”
    and always felt guilty as I thought back about it…but now that I am old and ugly and poor….”I wish ta hell I had one next door to visit!!!!”

    • Max  On December 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Also was stationed at Karamursell from 64/66 and 73/74 time frame. The
      compoune was a “Must” for all Yennie that arrived. What wasn’t well knows
      was the Turkish government gave the base “Passes” to military membrs.
      But at that time the base chaplin confiscated them or so the story went at the
      time. It was quite intersting to get off a Mid shift and jump in a taxi to go up
      there and see it. Many young Airmen, Navy and Army men went up there on
      break to indulge. Differeng times and situations for us away from home for
      many for the first time. Plus many of us were going to Viet Nam when we
      left there or had come from the Phillpines. But also up there were some geat
      ski resort in the mountains and some pretty good markets to buy trinkets for
      the folks back home. I have to admit that I had a great time on both visits to
      Karamurselle and have looked at it on the Google Earth maps with fond
      memories.

    • Patrick Harris  On March 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Hey I was also at Karamursell in 66/67/68 and was in Det 64. I played flag football with my brother there. (Harris brothers) Also went to the compound in Bursa and Blondie was pretty popular there.

  • Anonymous  On November 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Under the current Islamic centric political party ruling
    Turkey, I doubt if the compounds are still around. This
    is not the same Turkey that I enjoyed back in the day.

  • Les  On February 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    The great Ataturk must be spinning in his grave knowing who’s ruling Turkey.

  • Anonymous  On March 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Well believe it or not the compound still exist i just visit one on my last tour in the Med aboard a Naval Ship in Ismir and Marimas i did indulge and it was fun i partook in the 80′s,90′s and 2003 so for those who think they dont exist ask any cad driver he will take you to one for the right price.

  • Anonymous  On March 9, 2012 at 8:48 am

    It still exist

    • macbuddha01  On March 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Well, it seems that the Compound is doing better than Santa Clause!

  • Anonymous  On March 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    What’s the charge?

  • Anonymous  On April 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    in 1989 it was eight dollars

  • Jason  On April 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I was there in 1989 and best I can remember it cost around eight to fourteen dollars. I never participated, I stood outside holding the extra money. If they saw you had more money they would ask for more. The woman my friend frequently visited was serving time there to work off her husband’s prison sentence. She had his picture on a table beside the bed. I don’t know if serving time for her husband was true or not. I do remember hearing they were testing biweekly by doctors. It’s hard to believe that a government would run a brothel, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t see it with my own eyes.

  • Pete Gotay  On May 27, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Arrived in Izmir on Dec. 3, 1955 to help set up Det. 20. being a very young Airman at 18 years old making fair per diem, great exchange bank rates, etc.of course we lived like kings, had the best of everything. certainly like most Airmen there., we visited the Compound frequently and some like myself had regular girl friends to take care of things. With the help of the Compound, there were no sex crimes there and since Prostitution was very illegal, what else were men suppose to do. NOTE: By the way…many of the woman in the Compound were descent and fair looking .. just like the average population – i knew iwasnt there for no beauty contest.

  • Bruce  On August 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

    When I first arrived at the radar station at Diyarbakir in 1958 the 2 medics use to take people to the compound where they would wait until the medics would give them the ok. About halfway thru my tour a new base commander put the compound off limits. Several guys got in serious trouble. I know 2 guys that went to town and hired a taxi to take them to the compound in Mardin. I thought the numbers announced on the radio at NKP was a lottery of some kind.

  • Chris  On October 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I was in the Navy from 91′-93′ and was in the Med in 92′. A friend of mine practically begged me to go so he could visit a specific woman that only pleased military and no locals. I thought he was crazy, but went. as it has been said, it was a window shopping experience. as many were old ladies, there were a few really nice looking and well built ladies. We found the famed woman, who was a blonde and had the Marines, Air Force and Navy lined up 20 at a time. From what I seen, they would bring her flowers and gifts, as the scuttlebutt was that she was very good at what she did. Very clean, as she would shower in front of you and then clean you as well. Usually each experience would last about 45 minutes. I did not indulge as well, for fear of catching something, but my friend was very satisifed, as he could not stop talking about it.

  • ed  On November 6, 2012 at 6:39 am

    A Turkish soldier got a ration of so many trips to the compound a month. Seems they earned 12 cents a month pay around 1961. On Base one got around 7 lira to the dollar. on the black market one could get 20. There were 100 krus to the lira and While I never went to the compounds I heard one could get whatever for 25 krus. Also was told you could pay a fine and buy many of the women in the compounds.

  • George Navarre  On April 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I was there in 1975, as part of a NATO on Call Force. Went to the compound with a group of Navy Chiefs, and “Browsed. It was eye opening, young ladies, in bras and panties, up to old toothless women in baby doll outfits, long stringy hair, and sausage boobs hanging to their knees. Our corpsmen, a Navy 3rd class Petty officer, came down the stairs with two women, one under each arm, said he got them for $6.00 american. If I remember right, there was a gift shop near the front gate where you could buy toiletries for the ladies inside. Story was this women were working off prison sentences for their husbands, and american women think they have it rough.

  • Pete Gotay  On January 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    the cost of a quickie in the compound in Izmir Turkey was the equiv. of .50 cents the time I was stationed there, from Dec. 3 ’55 till Dec. 2, ’57 = the Turkish eschange was approx. 10 liras to 1 dollar. NOTE; Just to be fair, In my opinion..the compound served a great purpose, since there were no prostitutes in town available, the woman were average looking.l and like most fellow Airman we used them a lot……Ofcourse these woman were not participants of Miss America contest. Do you think American woman in jail are prettier. I was stationed there for 2 whole years and I lived with a woman for at least over a year and a half (A belly Dancer). Of the little over 100 men assigned to Det. 20. I dare say a great many of them got married there, including my NCOIC the Acct. NCOIC.

  • James MacAvoy  On March 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I was stationed aboard the American destroyer, USS Barry dd933, when I visited the Compound in May of 1970. For a young man of 20 from the mountains of North Carolina it was for sure an eye opener!

  • BOB J  On March 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I was in the 2MOB (mobile communications group, stationed at Moron de la Frontera, outside of Seville Spain) in the 60′s. Our radio and teletype operators and mechanics went to a base near ADANA, in southern Turkey, once a year for NATO exercises (war games) for 30 days. I went there once. When we went to a new location we were briefed, in advance, to only go off base on the BUDDY system. at least 2 GI’s. Prior to going to ADANA, we were briefed to go in groups of at least 5. Hearing the legends (some of which are TRUE) that the women in the compounds were there doing time for a male relative’s crime. Before reading this column and its extra posts, I thought (hoped) that ADANA was the ONLY Turkish city to have a compound. Another recollection from that TDY was getting a hand-made pair of mocasin boots for a carton of cigarettes, then worth $2.50. Per above posts, I’m saddened to know that the COMPOUNDS still exist. So much for the “new” government.

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