Saturday, 19th June 2021

Car Free Day in Colombo: Mayor faces backlash from women

Colombo, Aug 4(BAN/CD): The mayor of Colombo’s decision to declare a car-free day this Sunday to promote a “healthier” lifestyle faced major backlash from women who say that cars guaranteed them safety that the streets and public transport do not provide.

Women took to social media to express their disappointment at this decision. A tweet from a journalist, Marianne David saying she could “barely walk 100 metres without some sick pervert or inbred idiot saying something perverted or stupid” unleashed a torrent of anger from female residents of the city over the plan this week, Al Jazeera reported.

Many women responded in support of the journalist, sharing their own experiences of being harassed on the streets and public transportation.

“Street harassment is kind of getting worse. I can’t walk 10 steps without being stared at or catcalled,” Pabasara Palletanne, a public bank employee, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

The Mayor of Colombo Rosy Senanayake responded to the criticism saying that she was working towards addressing the issue of sexual harassment. In an email, she said that this is an issue that clearly needs a sustained effort.

A 2015 survey by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found nine out of 10 women and girls had faced sexual harassment on public buses and trains in Sri Lanka.

Randima Jayasinghe, a spokesperson for the UNFPA, said such a response highlighted “the patriarchal attitudes prevalent in societies” in Sri Lanka and urged women to report any sexual harassment they experienced.

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