Empty

Istanbul 
Her emptiness struck me, as I attempted to make eye contact….it’s a strange expression not typically encountered in children.  It’s a total disconnection.  A disturbing sense that there’s no more left, and nothing left in there to reach.  I don’t believe this to be absolutely true, and with hard work they could be found, and repaired….but there’s no such thing in this world, not in this strangely hellish place for persons without family, in an ethnic minority, and in a place with an ancient racism that has its roots buried deep within people.  There’s nobody to repair them, and no effective social service network to render the amount of aid necessary to begin the task of removing the barricades in place that form immovable obstruction.  Police are supposed to pull them off the street, and I’ve witnessed this once, with two Syrian girls.  At the time, I thought they would be immediately returned to their mother, but I know now that that may not have been the case.  Romani kids are not on the radar here.  They are the lowest of the low in Europe, and here in Turkey these children are treated with an unnerving form of derision, one reserved for the helpless and uneducated children of parents who are part of an underclass that lives and breathes in conditions that would be considered completely unacceptable in the year 2017 in the United States. These children are at times running wild, barefoot and dirty, and possessing a rare abandonment in their play….unrestricted by social folkways, and completely unsupervised at times, playing at ATM machines, harassing street vendors, gleefully fleecing the unwary when an opportunity comes their way, and if they’ve been taught how to pickpocket successfully.  People commonly regard them with withering looks, or completely ignore them, no matter whether they’re as young as five, skinny and dirty and alone at night….speaking to them in tones far worse than anything I’ve yet seen leveled at one of the many street dogs visible here.  I can’t speak to parental responsibility, because that’s something I cannot articulate as I haven’t followed anyone home….it seems that, no matter who the ultimate responsibility lies with, the children live in barracks built with racism, neglect and dirt.  The dirt is a grime that only the most ancient of cities is capable of producing, one that is not easily washed away….and in any case never will be, as bath and shower time seems to be an impossible luxury for most.

Author: suzannesteinphoto

Photographer

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