Maria, Marja-Leena, Lea-Maija, Helena and Birgit
Five texts that are stories of five Finnish women living in Istanbul
Background for the work was saying that I heard in Finland “watch out, Turkish men steal all the Finnish women!” This was told to me by an older man, who then also explained that the saying comes from the end of 60s / early 70s when Turkey first became a popular holiday destination for Finnish holiday travellers and supposedly many encounters between Finnish women and Turkish men happened.
There is a close community of about 40 Finnish women living in Istanbul. The women came to Istanbul decades ago, in the late 60s or early 70s. I wanted to find out their stories and to demolish the stereotype according to which these women were fooled into marriage with the Turkish man, who is only interested in exploiting the poor women and the Finnish living standards. Not one of the stories of the women I interviewed follow this pattern. On the contrary, the women left Finland for better work or study opportunities, and met their husband there. Each of them had to weigh the good and bad sides of Turkey and Finland, and has chosen to live in Turkey. It was courageous for these women to move to Turkey in the 1970s, because many of them knew nothing about the country or the culture and were warned not to go by their relatives.