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30 January 2017 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


 research conducted by Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) reveals that more than half the women say they have been sexually harassed at work and most admit to not reporting it.  
A survey of 1,500 women saw 52% cite the problem and also found a third had been subjected to unwelcome jokes and a quarter experienced unwanted touching.  
TUC head, Frances O’ Grady said it left women feeling ashamed and frightened.  
Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of violence against women. Sexual harassment is defined as receiving any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature including sexual comments, fondling, lewd gestures, jokes, emails, SMSs, pornographic pictures, coercion and more.  


The Bangalore Mirror, on January 1, 2017, reported that its photojournalists witnessed “A brazen mass molestation of women” in the city’s central business district. The news story was picked up by other media outlets across India. Eyewitness Parikshit Murria told CNN that he saw “a horde of men” molesting girls “in every possible manner.”  
While a State minister confirmed that females were “harassed”, the allegations were denied by a Police Chief in Bangalore, who suggested that they were concocted by journalists.  
Karnakata State Home Minister G. Parameshwara confirmed that the assaults took place, despite what the Police told CNN. However, in an interview with local press he (Minister) placed the blame on the victims, saying “they try to copy the Westerners, not only in their mindset but even in the way they dress...”. “So, some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.”  


Come on, let’s get real, in India, cows are held sacred… a non-Hindu man was, less than a year ago, beaten to death by mob because they suspected he had consumed cow meat. What hypocrisy! A man is killed for consuming the flesh of a cow, but women can be groped and harassed because of the clothes they wear?  
But what is most surprising is that some women tend to accept these charges made by male chauvinists. At a recent meeting of journalists, a majority of those in attendance seemed to agree that women and the clothes they wear, were responsible for the unwanted attention from men. In our part of the world we see men (farmers) clothed in an ‘amude’ or loin cloth with nary any unwelcome attention drawn toward their almost naked bodies. But a woman in Western attire is deemed a temptress and fair target for lecherous men be they young or old.  


We, the Asians refer to our countries as our ‘motherland’ - our way of showing how highly we value women. But the sad reality is that we objectify women. Despite living in an era where women as our equals, the reality is many see women as objects. We do not accept the fact that a woman’s body is her own and not a luscious chunk of flesh for men to cast their lustful eyes on.  
What is even sadder is when women themselves, do not recognize the fact that they are intelligent beings having the same rights as men to dress in a manner they wish without attracting unwanted attention of the opposite sex, who see their dress as an open license for sexual harassment.  


A recent survey carried out in our own country reveals 15% of men surveyed in Sri Lanka admitted to having committed rape, 65% of them said they had committed rape more than once, with 40% committing the first rape before the age of 20, and horror of horrors their motivation, in the vast majority of cases was sexual entitlement. Most alarmingly, only 3.2% of those who admitted rape had been arrested and only 2.2% had been jailed. In other words, in 96.5% of rape cases, the rapists had experienced no legal consequences.
A UN survey on violence against women in Sri Lanka revealed 97% of rapists faced no legal consequences. While parliamentarian Rosy Senanayake revealed in Parliament that only 600 perpetrators of sexual abuse out of 300,000 cases (or 2%) had been remanded.  
Media persons - the supposed watchdogs of the nation - have been equally complicit in crimes of harassing female colleagues. According to a survey carried out by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), almost 29% of Sri Lankan female journalists have experienced sexual harassment in their work places.  


We, Sri Lankans, have a rich 2,500-year-old history and culture. But having an age old culture is as useless as a 3-cent coin if we cannot honour our women; treat them as our equals, recognize them as persons and stop treating them as objects and playthings.    

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