July 23, 2015

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN SRI LANKA by Carien Schippers – University of Groningen, the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, public transportation is a convenient way to travel for young women. To travel by public transportation is encouraged by the Dutch government since its easy, quick and especially safe. However, unfortunately in Sri Lanka, this is not the case. Especially women are often victims of sexual harassment in public transportation.

Sexual harassment constitutes “harassment of a sexual nature using assault, criminal force, or words or actions which causes annoyance to the person being harassed”(Penal Code 345 qtd. in OBRSriLanka). According to the Legal Aid Commission, Sri Lanka was top listed on the matter of sexual harassment on women in public transportation in 2012 (Sooriyagoda). Public transportation is for many women the only way to get around, which leaves them no choice but to take a bus or train in which the chances of being sexually harassed are extremely high. About 95% of the women in Sri Lanka experienced sexual harassment in public transportation (Rush par. 1). Even though under section 345 of the Penal code of 1995, sexual harassment is considered a crime and therefore punishable (OBRSriLanka), reports about these incidents remain largely absent since women are for example embarrassed to file a report or feel that authorities are unable help them.

Sexual harassment in public transportation in Sri Lanka is thus a serious problem that unfortunately and wrongly goes unnoticed. In order for this issue to be diminished, it is important that the size and scope of the issue gains publicity and awareness. Furthermore, women should be able to feel empowered and safe to report a crime to local authorities. This requires, among other things, a functioning and reliable legal and political system, actual punishment of perpetrators, and campaigns to empower women on this matter to eventually create a safe environment for women to travel in. It should be self-evident for women to travel safely by public transportation.

GIVE ME FREEDOM by Aruni Samarakoon - University of Adger, Norway

After the civil war, the government and the armed forces of Sri Lanka has taken the responsibility of recovering, reconstructing and rehabilitating the war affected lives in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country. Since 2009, Sri Lankan army…
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