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.