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About Aaron Shepard’s

The Wicked Girl
A Tale of Turkey

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Copyright © 2003 Aaron Shepard. All rights reserved.

Here is background info for my story.—Aaron

In traditional Turkish culture, women were closely guarded, living in a separate upstairs apartment called a harem. The only men allowed there were family members. Servants in the harem were generally female slaves imported from other lands, since slaves didn’t have to wear veils in front of their male owners.

This female slavery was less harsh than the slavery in some other cultures. Slaves were generally treated well and were freed after seven years, often to marry Turkish husbands. Following the establishment of Turkey as a republic in 1923, the country was largely Westernized, and both slavery and the harem disappeared.

This story is retold from “The Arab Girl in Hate and Love,” in More Tales Alive in Turkey, by Warren S. Walker and Ahmet E. Uysal, Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, Texas, 1992. That version is translated from a 1966 recording made of Ali Çuga, a Turkish storyteller. My retelling includes only a selection of the Arab girl’s exploits.

For more on traditional Turkish life, see The Women of Turkey and Their Folk-Lore, Vol. 2, by Lucy M. J. Garnett, Nutt, London, 1891, chapters 16–22.