Call 156

She thought she was dreaming. But then it turned out to be really happening: the guy sitting behind her in the night bus from Istanbul to a city in central Anatolia was touching her all over her body and grabbing her breasts. She screamed, cried and trembled, and she told her friend, who called the bus conductor. The problem was that the guy who was sexually harassing her was the assistant bus conductor. Amazing how the bus staff handled the events: they tried to convince the girl to immediately forgive the guy for what he did, because ‘he didn’t mean anything bad’. Good thing the woman was sticking to her plan to call the police, and her friend helped her stick to it.

This all happened last week on a long-distance bus my love and I were travelling on. You will never hear me say that it is not safe in Turkey to take night buses – it is, but unfortunately sick men can be anywhere, and they can even be working for the bus company and harassing female passengers. The point is, it is wise to know what to do in such a case. The woman concerned decided to wait till she reached her destination to call the police. My love advised her to immediately call the military police, since they are keeping order in the countryside, and when you call 156 you will automatically be connected to the closest ‘gendarmerie’. They will stop the bus and take the guy off. The military police can’t be bribed, and the guy will not get away with what he did. In this case, I am afraid the guy will get away with it. I wonder if the woman took the trouble to go to the police in the end, but I saw the bus staff continuing to urge her not to.

Whatever your choice is, it’s good to know who to call in these sorts of situations. When you are in a Turkish town and need the police urgently, call 155. When you are in the country side, call 156, and the closest military police post will answer the phone. I hope you never need it, but it’s always good to be prepared.

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