On drives across south Turkey, from Hatay to Gaziantep, from Gaziantep to Mardin, from Adana to Antalya, you can see plenty of women, young and old, working the fields by hand.
A widow I interviewed last year wanted to do the same while she was still in Syria, but an all black covering — Daesh’s mandated dress code — made the work so hot it was impossible. She complained about other things, but made specific mention of this.
An article in Syria Deeply gives us some numbers of the situation in Turkey, and I quote because I do see this as representative of the current whole:
In Turkey, many landowners see Syrians like Khadija as an opportunity to cut costs, and, much to the chagrin of some locals who have worked the fields for generations, hire the refugees as their new, cheaper workforce.
While the average Turkish farm laborer earns 60 lira (around $20) per day, a Syrian refugee performing the same job earns half that amount. Women earn as little as 20 lira (around $8) per day and, since they are cheaper labor, are employed more often.
A little bit later:
Fleeing to Europe was never a feasible option for most of the refugees working in these fields.
Izmir, the erstwhile smuggling hub for refugees hoping to travel to Greece, is just one hour from Torbali, but the smugglers’ fees are out of reach to many laborers.
With a monthly salary of $200 – if they are lucky enough to be paid, and paid on time – saving up the average fee of $1,500 per person for the crossing is financially impossible.
Furthermore, since the E.U.-Turkey deal to detain migrants upon arrival in Greece and deport them back to Turkey was instituted in April, it is now logistically impossible as well.
This last sentence is key to the situation now. Even those arriving in Greece no longer have an ease of access to Germany and the greater parts of Europe beyond. And this is providing to be, whatever we think of it, something that discourages Syrians in Turkey from crossing in the first place. I know a few guys looking for work — they just want the opportunity to work hard — but paying off the high cost of being smuggled to Greece (a ferry ride that costs me 17 Euros) without much improved prospects, seems to them now counterproductive.