Even though Turkey is the only Muslim country, where prostitution and gender change is legal, transvestites can’t lead a normal life. Their human rights are being violated and they’re are being treated like second-class citizens.
Transgender women and men are often targeted and even killed. Many Turkish families consider that a transvestite is a disgrace for the family and a male member of the family is chosen to hunt her down and kill her.
But the streets are also dangerous. Denise, one of the transvestites I followed and photographed, was later murdered in 2011 by a man that she had met on Facebook and had agreed to have paid sex with. After finding out Denise was a transvestite, the man murdered her. The man told the police he didn’t know she was a transvestite when he first met her, but found out about it when they were having oral sex.
In Turkey, according to unofficial statistics, there are more than 6000 transvestites, from which almost 4000 in Istanbul and 2000 in other big cities like Ankara and Izmir. The transvestites and transexuals leave the rural areas in order to blend in the masses of the city.
But, even the official state doesn’t protect them. The Turkish Minister for Women and Family affairs, Aliye Kavaf, said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet: “I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, an illness, and should be treated.”
The laws are also very harsh for those that are caught crossdressing. Transvestites in Turkey have to live as outcasts, chased by their families and the state. The laws are very harsh for those that are caught crossdressing and fines may range from a couple of hundred dollars to $7000.
Many transvestites are forced to work as prostitutes, because no one will hire them. Those that do work, when they’re caught crossdressing they’re fired. The average price for a session with a client in Turkey is between $8 to $15, so little that they’re unable to cover their living costs.
Greece has been dependent on brown coal for its electricity for more than 60 years. Where there were once plowed fields and cattle grazing, vibrant villages with schools and churches, there is now the biggest open-pit lignite mine in the Balkans. The land has been flattened and filled with more than a thousand trucks and a 225-kilometer conveyor belt transferring brown coal 24/7, 365 days a year, to the nearby power plants, making the region of western Macedonia in the northwest of Greece the “energy heart” of the country. Today, western Macedonia has eight power plants that generate nearly 56 percent of the country's electricity and four mines that cover 150,000 acres. In the past, Greece would cover 90 percent of its electricity needs by lignite combustion but today, that amount has fallen to 50 percent after the introduction of renewable energy, which now covers 20 percent of the country's electricity needs. Greece started its industrialisation much later than northern Europe and the United States – in the 1950s – and supported it with lignite which was local, cheap and abundant. Hundreds of textile and lubricant factories were created and the stream of Greek men immigrating to Germany and other countries in Europe came to a halt. Electricity consumption continually increased until 2008, when the financial crisis began. Still today, many in Greece believe in order to emerge from the economic straits plaguing the country, is cheap energy and energy autonomy while they remain hostile to renewables saying green energy is too expensive. People think that the PPC is just the counter where they pay their bill, but not everyone is doing the same job though. Miners have the toughest job in the country and their life expectancy is 10 years smaller than the average.
Since 2009, Greece has been a point of entry and transit for two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In those early days, the gateways to Greece and therefore to Europe were two: through the Aegean Sea in the East or through the Evros river in the northeastern borders with Turkey. For those who would survive the trip, the future was not bright: human rights violations, delays in paperwork and no official State plan in dealing with the issue led to caravans of immigrants being directed to Athens, where surviving proved to be a daily struggle and an actual matter of life and death, due to the rise of the neo-nazi groups.