Harassment Policy Paper

Pembe Hayat Harassment Policy Paper

Pembe Hayat LGBTI+ Solidarity Association created a policy against harassment in accordance with the decision made at the General Assembly in June 2015.

Policy Text Against Sexual Harassment

Following a harassment incident at Pembe Hayat Association, it was decided to draft a policy against sexual harassment and violence that could be distributed to the board of directors, employees, members, and volunteers in an effort to prevent future occurrences and to outline what course of action would be taken in such cases.

As trans women residing in Ankara in 2006, we aimed to establish a culture and solidarity network against the police, gangs, mafia, and masculine violence in the legal system, all of which are directed against us and render our lives impossible. The right of trans women, who were compelled to socialize as though they were in competition over sex work, was another reason we established this solidarity network and culture.

As a result of this culture, we wanted to make our lives better and established the Pembe Hayat Association.

Remembering that the association is structured around the existence of LGBT people and sex workers is important as we attempt to draft a policy text on sexual harassment. Our association is in a different organization from "mixed" non-governmental organizations blended with heteronormative culture that include the topic of sexual harassment on their agenda or from organizing practices based on just one gender because of its organizational structure.

We hereby declare that it is not our responsibility to conceal issues of harassment, sexual abuse, or violence, but rather to act as an association to prevent such situations from occurring.

As the Pembe Hayat Association, we came to the conclusion that it was impossible to write a text that would have the final "word" on problems like sexual harassment, abuse, mobbing, discrimination, and violence during the preparation process of the sexual harassment policy document. Care was taken in creating this document so that at the very least, the allegation of sexual harassment could be addressed without subjecting the victim to further abuse. In light of the above, it should be clear that we intend for this document to develop into a dynamic work in progress.

As the Pembe Hayat LGBTI Solidarity Association, we see sexual violence as a part of our struggle and are witness to the emergence of transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia as forms of sexual violence in our daily lives.

In our associations, in our events, the parties we throw, other social activities, and street activism, violence, up to harassment, can happen. We can be victims as well as perpetrators. We are seeing the negative effects of this entire process on trans activism as well as the broader movement against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

Pembe Hayat, an LGBTI association that advocates for the human rights of transgender people, decided to create an Ombuds mechanism at the June 2015 General Assembly with the intention of analyzing issues with a rights-based perspective and using a feminist principle, method, and language, not just with regard to harassment but with regard to all potential issues that may arise within the organization and in its activities. In order to investigate any incidents of harassment, violence, or mobbing that might take place among the association's members, board of directors, volunteers, staff members, and other participants in its activities, it was decided to set up an ombuds mechanism. 

This policy statement aims to help establish an environment of activism and organization free from sexual harassment and assault. This policy document also seeks to deter crimes like sexual assault and harassment.

The goal of this document is not to strictly regulate how men and women interact with each other, stop consensual relationships, force people to follow a particular sexual morality, restrict their ability to express themselves, or respond to sexually charged personal conflicts and disturbances with harsh penalties.
This document's main goal is to increase public awareness of sexual harassment and assault while also supporting victims by preventing actions that might be construed as harassment.

Scope: This document includes information about the association as well as about all the public spaces and the street where the association conducts business.


The association's board of directors is in charge of granting the ombudsperson access in situations involving sexual harassment, mobbing, discrimination, sexual abuse, and sexual assault. The Ombudsperson reviews the application within 10 working days, notifies the applicant, and works with the committee to be established on the board of directors' recommendation to help wrap up the investigation six months after it begins. This procedure must be followed by the board of directors.

Sexual harassment and assault are serious crimes that violate victims' rights and can have a negative impact on them in many ways. They are a form of discrimination brought on, among other things, by gender inequality.

Pembe Hayat Association declares with this policy document that it will continue to work to increase public awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault, that it is prepared to stop such incidents from happening, and that it will operate an efficient investigation and sanction mechanism when such allegations and complaints are made.

Pembe Hayat Association undertakes educating the public about sexual harassment and assault, supporting victims, taking action to provide restorative justice with the parties' consent, and handling all allegations and complaints about sexual harassment and assault professionally.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment includes sexually explicit words, attitudes or other forms of behavior that are made without body contact with a person and are not based on the consent of the other person.

Sexual harassment may be defined as recurrent or isolated actions depending on the context and setting of the occurrence. Sexual harassment does not need "continuity."

Depending on the severity and type of the harassing behaviors, sexual harassment is separated into three categories. Simple harassment, ongoing harassment, and severe harassment are the three categories into which it is separated. The examples below may demonstrate many forms of sexual harassment:

  1. Simple harassment: Behavior that creates an unfavorable environment without involving threats, blackmail, or insults. Slurs, sexual jokes, compliments, the use of slang, unusually persistent flirting behavior, the disturbance of the other person with pornographic material, inquiries into the person's sexual life, and gossiping despite the other person saying that they are uncomfortable are examples of simple harassment.
  2. Ongoing Harassment: This type of harassment is the continuation of Simple Harassment in spite of repeated warnings. 
  3. Severe Harassment: It occurs through threats, blackmail, insults and similar situations, and they are actions aimed at controlling the behavior of the person. Severe harassment can also be observed among people of equal status, though it can undermine the person's professional or academic authority.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is the act of engaging in sexual behavior without the victim's consent, violating their bodily integrity. There are two forms of sexual assault:

Without sexual contact, a person's bodily immunity is violated in the first type of sexual assault. According to the circumstances, embracing, stroking, caressing, and touching can be seen in such forms of sexual assault.
The second type of sexual assault involves forcing an object, such as a sexual organ, into the victim's body and breaching it.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault and harassment committed against people under the age of 18 are referred as "child sexual abuse."

Making an individual's life challenging at work or in school just because they are refusing offers that are sexual or emotional or because they wish to report being harassed is also regarded as a form of harassment.

Reparative justice

The goal of restorative justice is to thoroughly comprehend the victim's requirements. With restorative justice, the victim's environment, the alleged abuser's environment, and the desired outcome are all considered during the process. Such solutions are envisioned as an alternative to the current application possibilities, as a precondition for resorting to such solutions, or as a solution for the association that does not result in the cessation or interruption of the statute of limitations on disciplinary and criminal investigations or other legal solutions. Reparative justice does not always entail negotiation or compromise.

1. Privacy Policy

At all stages of allegations of sexual harassment, the association will act in accordance with the principle of privacy of the applicant's and complainant's private lives. The confidentiality principle is crucial to finding a resolution without exposing the specifics of the parties' private lives to the public, and it is particularly evident in claims of sexual harassment.

2. Principle of Due Diligence
The Association pays attention and takes care to avoid any behavior that could make the abused person a victim again and harm the parties' human dignity in the face of allegations of sexual harassment. It also works to prevent the emergence of such behaviors. This rule protects the victim from reoccurring victimization, particularly in the application process involving claims of sexual harassment and assault.

3. Statement and Evidence

Sexual harassment is often experienced between two people and is difficult to prove. This situation forces the abused individuals to stay quiet, which fosters a hostile environment for harassment. The prevention strategies that have emerged in response to this document seek to comprehend the nature of the incident through a more comprehensive analysis of the context, the individuals involved, and the nature of the harassment itself, even in the absence of direct evidence. However, since the suspicion that might develop due to a lack of evidence in the administrative and judicial investigation processes is interpreted in favor of the accused, it is crucial for the harassed individuals to act delicately when gathering and keeping various types of materials that they can use as evidence in the investigation, provided they comply with the law.

4. Intentional Misrepresentation

In situations where it is obvious that the claimant purposefully lied and gave false information during the processing of their applications to the association, disciplinary sanctions will be applied. This policy statement cautions all association members against getting into emotional or other personal altercations over claims of sexual harassment.
Measures that a person who thinks they have been subjected to sexual harassment can take against this situation

1) Reading the Sexual Harassment policy document
2) Avoiding situations and individuals that they believe may be vulnerable to sexual harassment
3) Clearly warning the person that the behavior is not welcome and answering "no" openly to the people who offers unwanted sexual approach
4) Notifying the offending person that they will file a formal complaint if they do not stop their behavior
5) From the first moment of the incident, to collect all kinds of materials that can be used as evidence in the investigation, to keep records of the events, to keep the evidence and to share the incident with the close circle.
In accordance with the decision made at the General Assembly in June 2015, this document was created and entered into force in December 2015 with the approval of the Board of Directors.

During the preparation of this document, the texts of the Association for Combating Sexual Violence and Amnesty International Turkey Branch on sexual harassment, the issue of Kaos GL Magazine Harassment and the Ankara University Policy document against sexual harassment and sexual assault were used.