Blog Archives

One Billion No More

One Billion Rising has been launched in several countries, and on Sunday Sri Lanka joined the growing list.

Women in Need conducted a walk the same day that led to Galle Face where OBR Sri Lanka  was launched, with motivating speeches from inspirational women, street theater, song and dance.

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

Pic by Tehani Ariyaratne

At Galle Face for the launching of OBR Sri Lanka!

Pic by Megara Tegal

Pic by Megara Tegal

Street theatre performance about VAW

DSC_1348

Pic by Megara Tegal

The engrossed audience

Pic by Megara Tegal

Pic by Megara Tegal

 

Day: Thirteen

This image is free of copyrights. Feel free to use this image to raise awareness about gender based violence.

Day thirteen features a photograph by Rushda Mohinudeen.

While gender-based violence has recently emerged as a salient topic in the human security community, it has been framed principally with respect to violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence. In this article, I argue that gender-based violence against men (including sexual violence, forced conscription, and sex-selective massacre) must be recognized as such, condemned, and addressed by civilian protection agencies and proponents of a ‘human security’ agenda in international relations. Men deserve protection against these abuses in their own right; moreover, addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in conflict situations is inseparable from addressing the forms of violence to which civilian men are specifically vulnerable.

– Sage Journals Online

Watch this blog for the next 4 days. We’ll be posting a featured photograph each day till 10 December as part of WMC campaign against GBV.

For more information about this campaign click here

Rushda Mohinudeen is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She heads ReachOut (a women’s rights group), works at an advertising agency and enjoys calling people koonjis. More of her photography can be found here.

Real Men Do Not Harass Women

As most of my friends and I have had our fair share of encounters with perverts, mostly while travelling in public transport. Initially when a woman encounters such weird disturbing characters we become scared and even come to a point to be ashamed that maybe it was our fault for have invited such due to our dress code or so on. But due to the mentality of such perverts they actually tend to enjoy making a woman feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and probably assume we will not make a commotion and carry on with their pervert-ish acts.

It is well known that in society there exists people with diverse mentalities but harassment is not something any woman should face in order to satisfy anyone idiosyncrasies. Any person found to have caused harassment is possible to be faced with penal sanctions and no woman should stay quiet about it, speak up and stand up for all women! since no one should tolerate harassment.

One project that interested me was one carried out by Reach Out with the help of Beyond Borders that creates awareness through forum theatre relating to harassment of women in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately I could not commit to this project due to busy work schedules, but something anyone should be a part of, since it speaks of a social issue that needs to be addressed by all.

Recently I came across a post by this site called Hollaback, which is a global movement to end street harassment and HollabackMumbai is where Indian women can share their experiences of such harassment and create awareness. One article that caught my eye was the following, and thought of sharing it with everyone.

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Original post by Radhi de Silva.

Man Up!

For the guys there was a huge risk factor involved. There was a fair chance the commuters on the bus would band together and beat the living day lights out of them. But that was what Reach Out and Beyond Borders had set find out when we conducted disruptive theatre in buses recently.

Despite it being a nerve-wrecking social experiment, disruptive theatre was dynamic way to gather research for our campaign against harassment of women in public places.

The skit was simple. We planted a designated perpetrator and victim on popular bus routes and enacted a typical harassment scenario. A few team ‘observers’ stationed about the purlieus discreetly made a record of how Sri Lanka bystanders- male or female, young or old, reacted.

After 6 disruptive theatre skits over four weekends, in buses as well as public places (shopping malls like Majestic City), we had sound qualitative evidence to suggest that Sri Lankans are somewhat indifferent when in the vicinity of street harassment or they simply didn’t know how to react.

On one occasion a female passenger offered her seat to our victim. Apart from that our perpetrator was shot a few glaring looks of disapproval from both men and women but that was as far as the bystanders would go.

Going by our research it’s clear that Sri Lankans need to be educated on how to react appropriately, if we wish to make Colombo a safer place for women. They also need to be made aware of the gravity of street harassment; the damaging long term psychological effects it has on women. Further research indicated that many Sri Lankans are oblivious to the law enforced against street harassment and the possible 5 year imprisonment sentence that entails it.

More information on advisable and safe ways to react to street harassment, whether you witness it or you’re a victim of it, check out the ReachOut Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/reachoutnow

Note: All participating BBites and ReachOut members emerged from the disruptive theatre with their limbs intact; completely unharmed save for a few accidentally squished toes.

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What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is an act of a sexual nature using assault, criminal force, or words or actions, which causes annoyance or pain of mind to the person being harassed.

It can include

  • unwelcome physical contact and advances
  • words or comments of a sexual nature that makes the person hearing it uncomfortable
  • dirty jokes and obscene gestures
  • showing pornographic material
  • demanding or requesting sexual favours
  • circulation of abusive emails
  • any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non – verbal conduct of sexual nature

Sexual harassment can occur in the work place or in public places such as in buses.

Both men and women can be guilty of sexual harassment.

What a Victim of Sexual Harassment

SHOULD DO

SHOULD NOT DO

tell the harasser to stop ignore it
complain to authorities laugh it off
confront the harasser  

Victims Ignore Sexual Harassment

because

  • of an environment that does not encourage complaints
  • the fear of making matters worse
  • the fear of harm to one’s name
  • its acceptance as a common occurrence in the workplace
  • of lack of awareness about legal relief
  • of the absence of sexual harassment prevention policies in the workplace
  • of the common practice of blaming victims rather than the aggressor
  • of low self esteem

The Law

Sexual harassment is an offence in the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995 (section 345).

The offence is described as: “Harassment of a sexual nature using assault, criminal force, or words or actions which causes annoyance to the person being harassed.”

The punishment for the offence is

  • imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period up to five (5) years, or
  • a fine, or
  • imprisonment and fine imposed together.

The perpetrator can be ordered to pay compensation to the person against whom the offence was committed.

Encouraging or condoning sexual harassment is also a crime under the law.

Filing a Sexual Harassment Case

  • Make an entry at the nearest Police Station
  • The Police will then conduct investigations
  • The Police will decide, in consultation with the Attorney General’s Department whether or not to file action in court.

Source: ACT Now- Resources for Combating Violence Against Women