Turkish professor under fire after boasting about sexually assaulting student

Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) geology professor Celal Şengör came under fire after video footage of him surfaced on Sep. 16, revealing how he boasted about lifting up a student's skirt and "spanking her butt." In the footage, Şengör is seen laughing about how terrified the student was.

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Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) geology professor Celal Şengör came under fire on Sep. 16 after video footage of him surfaced, showing him boasting about sexually harassing a student by "spanking her butt."

"She made me so angry that I lifted up her skirt and spanked her butt. She was terrified," Şengör is heard saying in what seems to be a Zoom call.

"I asked her 'Has your dad ever done that?' She said not even her dad had spanked her. I told her 'Your dad fell short on that front, now it's complete,'" Şengör says before laughing about it. 

The İTü Women+ Solidarity Group were the first to react to reports of Şengör's admission of guilt, saying that he "brazenly recounted how he sexually harassed a student." 

"We don't want this man who thinks he's 'disciplining' us, who legitimizes harassment and rape in academia in our school," the group tweeted. 

The group said that a lack of prosecution toward perpetrators of violence and harassment in academia is the equivalent of "chains placed on freedom" of women+.

The group also launched a social media campaign with the hashtag "we don't want a sexually harassing academic at İTÜ."

The group "Campus Witches" (Kampus Cadıları), which is organizing in 20 Turkish universities with the aim of taking the fight of sexual harassment, said that the "male domination" lies behind the academic's action. 

"We will not accept that İTÜ continues to accommodate an abusive academic within its organization," said the group on Twitter, sharing Şengör's footage. 

"We will not normalize it, we will not be quiet, we will expose it. We don't want harassment, rape, violence in İTÜ or elsewhere! We will win, we will be free!" co-spokesperson for Green Party, Emine Özkan said on Twitter.

A social media user named Pelin Kalkan noted that the academic is highly revered in Turkey, and that there's a group who would even try to "normalize" his harassment.

"You may find a sick group who normalizes harassment by saying 'that's a student whom he considers as his daughter that he raised,'" Kalkan wrote. 

Bilkent University academic Dr. Tufan Kıymaz said that he believes "the university administration should pull down [Şengör's] pants and kick him out on the butt," a Turkish expression that means to send someone away for good as a reprimand.

Kıymaz went on to note that Şengör's video revealed more than just physical harassment, noting a list of wrongful perceptions reflected in his attitude. 

"Of course there's physical harassment. Then there's the view that fathers should discipline their daughters with beating. There's the view that a professor can treat their students like their children. And then there's the fact that he recounted this as a regular story, and even boasted about it," Kıymaz said.