The honorable struggle of a woman harassed
Her name is Zuhal Güneş. She is 48 years old and has two grown-up children aged 18 and 25. She is strong, principled, positive and resilient. She was 38 when she divorced her husband.
She took care of herself and her children; she has been working at the same job for 25 years as the executive assistant of a company in a giant holding.
At this time last year, her boss called her into his office, asked her to shut the door and told her he was stressed and wanted to relax a bit. After a couple of sweet words, he pulled her to himself by her wrists and tried to kiss her. Zuhal pushed him and told him off.
In short, the 63-year-old boss, who is married with two children and with whom she has been working with for the past eight years, sexually abused her.
But Zuhal did not swallow this incident as thousands of other women do in this country. She did not think: “Well, it was a moment of weakness. All men try. He also tried. I rejected him. This whole thing will be forgotten.”
She thought of her daughter. “What if the same was done to my daughter? Would she be able to protect herself? Enough of these abusers. He has to pay for what he has done.”
This is the most interesting aspect of this case, in my opinion. Similar incidents have happened to many of the women who are reading these lines at one time or another.
Some people have touched us. They have stealthily felt us here and there or rubbed themselves, but we have acted as if we did not understand. They have either gone for our lips, or we have pushed some of them away.
Or they have verbally abused us, implying ugly things while we act the stupid. Zuhal did not do so; she challenged the giant company. Frankly, I liked it. I appreciate her courage.
I adore how, contrary to what has been taught to us, she did not continue with her life saying, “These things happen.” Hats off to her because she closed her ears to those who told her: “Are you going to get yourself into a scandal? You’ll be in the papers, and you’ll go to court. Come on; let it go.”
That day, following the harassment, Zuhal first went to the infirmary because her blood pressure hit 18, and then went home.
She searched the internet and looked up her legal rights. She learned she had to inform the top administration before going to the office of the prosecutor.
She called the head of the group of companies who was a woman, explaining everything. The top-level woman told her to let it go because she was a mother of two and that she would be involved in a scandal that would attract the press. She offered to transfer her to another company. She politely added, “I will not fire a general manager for a secretary.”
Zuhal told her she did not want money or a job. She only wanted a person with that mentality to be punished. Zuhal was first transferred to another company but when she filed her harassment complaint with the prosecutor, she was fired.
She sought support from women organizations. The office of the prosecutor reviewed Zuhal’s case and decided there was no adequate evidence, duly dropping the case.
Zuhal challenged the decision. Demonstrations were held, with women’s organizations and platforms in front of the workplace in the Manisa Organized Industry Zone.
The Manisa 2nd Criminal Court of Peace then reversed the decision of the prosecutor’s office and decided to open a harassment case. The hearing will be soon.
“I will not give up,” Zuhal said. “No women should be silent before harassment. If the harasser has a high position, that does not justify it.”
She added: “It is a man harassing a woman. I have no intention of defaming the company I have worked for for years. I complained about one person, not the company. Why is the company protecting the abuser? Is it because he is the general manager? There is another woman who stated she was harassed by the same general manager. The prosecutor has also listened to her.”
Yes, there are harassment and rape stories coming from every place in the country, but the case of Zuhal Güneş gives me hope for the future.
You will see that woman like Zuhal Güneş, who is seeking her rights, will be an example for other women.
By the way, Zuhal Güneş won her case to be reinstated at work.