We used to whisper that we are feminists;
now we are shouting out for all to hear.
There is a place in Mardin totally worth visiting, a complete gem of a place not included in most guidebooks. It's small and unassuming and doesn't serve liquor and doesn't have international flags waving out front.
What it does have is amazing food and a completely relaxed atmosphere and the nicest woman ever on staff.
Kamer Vakfi's Mardin location is one of more than 20 scattered through eastern and south-eastern Anatolia. The organization, the name of which means "moon foundation" in English, was formed in 1997 as a response to increasing domestic violence against women and has since created a web of support for women in unhealthy and dangerous situations.
As part of their outreach, the foundation has opened restaurants and hired local women in each city to cook, sell and serve food. It hasn't been easy getting the program off the ground in Mardin, though.
When we ate lunch there, Tulay, who oversees the Mardin branch and restaurant, told us about getting the project started in Mardin in 2007. We spoke in Turkish, slowly and simply, while I took notes.
She told us that when the restaurant first opened in 2007, many women expressed an interest in cooking there. But one by one, each woman would come for a day and then never return, usually because her husband forbade it.
Tulay said they worked long and hard to show men -- husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, even sons -- that women working outside of the home wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
It's good for women to earn a bit of their own money, she told us. They're happier that way.
But how did they convince men to allow their wives to work here?
It took a lot of talking and a lot of showing, Tulay said. Sometimes men would pretend to pass by and then they would act surprised we were here. Then they would look in and we would explain what we do.
At this point, she shook her head. You don't realize it when you see these women on the street. You have no idea how hard their lives are. Sokaklarda, evlerde cok acayip seyler oluryor, she told us. (There are amazing things that go on in these houses and streets.)
I didn't press her for details. Part of me didn't really want to know. My imagination could figure it out.
Now, there are 10 women who work on a rotating basis in the Mardin restaurant. The women come in in the morning, cook the food for the day and then Tulay takes care of the sales and serving during lunch.
Which, as you can see from the pictures, is truly wonderful. Ask them to put together a mixed assortment of food unique to Mardin and you won't go wrong.
If you go:
Kamer Vakfi, Medrese Mah 255 Sokak (next to the PTT), Tel: 0482 212 25 45
Mixed plate (including rice, salad and drinks) for 2: 25-30 TL