Turkish market run by risky women stalled after lira crash

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(Refiles to clarify in the title that the market is run by women at risk)

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) – Hazal Tunc and his friends founded Turkey’s first women-only street market eight years ago to help victims of domestic violence and divorcees, and it has provided them with jobs and income. security – so far.

Like organizations and businesses across Turkey, the market has seen its business shrink dramatically following a currency crisis in which the lira lost up to 48% of its value in the the last two months only.

The market in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in the southeast of the country saw buoyant trade in its early years, but has declined in the past two years, particularly in the past six months, as the crash of the pound has driven up prices and ravaged household budgets.

“Sales are at a standstill. In the past, customers bought two kilos of carrots. Now they come to buy three carrots,” said Tunc, 46, a mother of three who helped found the fruit, vegetable and handicraft market.

The lira crisis was triggered by President Tayyip Erdogan’s push for lower interest rates despite a sharp rise in inflation and warnings from economists.

“EVERYONE HAS GONE UP”

In happier days, up to 256 women made a living selling their wares at the street market, but that figure has dropped to 69.

“People’s buying power is almost completely gone – and so is our selling power,” Tunc said. “Everyone has given up”

The lira rebounded sharply last week after the government unveiled a deposit protection plan and the state backed a series of market interventions selling billions of dollars.

Tunc was unimpressed.

“If they (the government) could intervene, why did they wait three months, four months?” she said. “A lot of people committed suicide, they got into debt. If (the government) could solve this problem, why didn’t it?”

A week ago, before the government moved, a dollar was worth 18 liras. On Monday, it was worth 11.4 lira, but still down 35% from a year ago.

Economists say the lira remains vulnerable, and with it people’s standard of living. Annual inflation is expected to jump to 30% next year, from 21% last month, as import prices soar and retailers cover rising costs for goods, energy and fuel. labor.

Vegetable vendor Hanim Dogan said people are now struggling to buy basic groceries.

“In the evening the bread costs 4 liras and the next morning it costs 7 liras. People are confused and don’t know what to do. A person who bought 5 kilos of oranges before, now buys 1 or 2 kilos,” she said.

“The financial situation has become very difficult.”

(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones)

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