Colombo Mayor assures will address sexual harassment issue

The office of the Colombo mayor, Rosy Senanayake has said she was working to addressing the issue of sexual harassment.

“Clearly it’s something that needs a sustained effort,” the Mayor’s office said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The response came after a furious backlash from women in the city, who say cars offer them much-needed protection from sexual harassment on the streets and on public transport.

The Colombo Mayor had earlier announced Sri Lanka’s congested capital would go car-free this Sunday to promote a “healthier” lifestyle, she might have expected a few grumbles from petrolheads.

A tweet from a journalist saying she could “barely walk 100 meters (110 yards) 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.

Dozens of women backed the journalist, Marianne David, describing experiences from being ogled, cat-called and flashed at on the streets to being groped and masturbated upon in crowded trains and buses.

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.

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