Cases of sexual harassment were addressed on the basis of the disciplinary regulations of the National Higher Education Council. Gender Audit revealed that a specific unit was needed to express the organization’s commitment to addressing and carrying out activities to raise awareness about sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
Developing sexual harassment prevention and support structures: Creation of the Commission for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence, Sexual Harassment and Assault
To have clearly articulated and structured institutional procedures and processes, a directive and a unit to combat gender-based violence and sexual harassment in OzU campuses, facilities, classrooms and dorms. Also to explicitly define in the directive what forms of misconduct constitute gender-based violence and sexual harassment.
Initially, it was important to have representatives from OzU’s psychological Counselling Unit and the Faculty of Law—members experienced in dealing with such cases from their respective disciplines. Also, it was necessary and useful to communicate with the universities that established similar units.
By forming such a Commission, OzU became part of the “CTS Network” among Turkish universities – network of units to combat sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
The governance bodies, key actors and decision-makers
Type of action
Creation of structures
Higher education institution
Action level of implementation
Departments, staff, students
PLOTINA team studied the structures and directives of similar units in other Turkish universities. The team also participated in the all-Turkey Sexual Harassment Prevention Units’ meetings in May 2018 in Van, in December 2018 in Kayseri, İn May 2019 in Istanbul and in November 2019 in Ankara. In these meetings, a valuable exchange of ideas and experiences with other universities took place, which proved to be crucial in the creation of the Commission in the correct form and with the most developed policy document. A provisional working group composed of OzU academics specialized in Psychology, Law and Feminist/Gender Studies wrote the directive and policy document of the Commission to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Harassment and Assault. The provisional working group also collected information from students about their needs and was invited by the university administration to observe and participate in relevant disciplinary processes. The abovementioned documents were approved by the University Directives Commission and then conveyed to the University Senate.
The most important challenge was to write a directive and a policy statement that were in tune with and built upon the experiences of other universities that already had such mechanisms. Drawing on the common knowledge of these universities ensured that cases of sexual harassment would be dealt with in the same way and with regard to the same definitions as the ones shared by other national institutions.
The provisional working group studied the directives, compositions and administrative statuses of sexual harassment prevention units in other national universities. Also, it was important to inquire into the relevant laws and the National Higher Education Council’s regulations addressing such cases.
In the beginning of the directive and policy document writing process, it was necessary and very useful to engage academics who previously worked on the subject and to discuss with them the ethical dimension of the working of this unit.
Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt
Analysing and taking as models the directives and policy documents of other universities with similar units proved to be very helpful. It also ensured policy standardization or harmony with other universities across the country.
More detailed Outcomes/Impact
The main consequence expected of this action is a cultural change that eradicates sexism and gender-based violence in all areas of the university.
The Commission to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, Sexual Harassment and Assault mainly functions as a body that receives complaints and reports them to the Rectorate. The Commission is required to write annual reports of its activities and cases it deals with.
Reflection/what we would do differently
Awareness-raising materials and trainings could be organized without first waiting for the Unit to be created. Some academics take individual initiatives to give talks and seminars on issues such as flirt violence but a training programme could be realized in a more structured way.