Sexually harassed underage female employee told by boss to ‘get used to it’

Photo: Canva

A female high school student who was allegedly subjected to sexual harassment while working at a logistics firm in İstanbul was told by her boss to “get used to it,” the Evrensel newspaper reported on Thursday.

The incident took place at Sertrans Lojistik, where the student was working as part of a cooperation scheme between the company and a vocational training center.

The student had approached the manager to complain about an incident of sexual harassment she suffered and was told to get used to it “since harassment is something she would face frequently in professional life.”

The student then reported the incident to the training center, which ended its collaboration with the company, the report said.

Opposition MP İskender Bayhan brought the scandal to the parliamentary agenda, asking Education Minister Yusuf Tekin about the allegations as well as whether the ministry had mechanisms in place to counter sexual harassment.

Bayhan cited another case in which a student working as an apprentice at Mercedes-Benz was reportedly harassed by a client and was laid off by the company as a result.

Vocational centers, referred to as MESEM in Turkey, allow teenagers to be legally recruited as employees. Evrensel in its report accused them of providing a legal shield to the exploitation of children.

Turkey has notoriously low workplace safety standards, as evidenced by the nearly 2,000 reported work-related deaths in 2023.

In 2021 the country withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty on combating violence against women which defines sexual harassment as a form of violence and mandates state parties to implement legal protection mechanisms for women suffering from it.

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