Activities

Core Forum Activities
16

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A Call for Safe Nights! Safe Streets! Safe Homes!

(A Walk organized by the Women’s Education and Research Centre as a IWD 2018 venture, calling for the safety of women)

The Women’s Education and Research Centre (WERC) as its International Women’s Day initiative, undertook to create awareness on the issue of violence against women and called for a sexual violence free country. On the 5th of March, 2018, women from different women’s organizations and like-minded organizations together with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, gathered at dusk in front of the Fort Railway Station to begin their Walk under the banner “Safe Nights! Safe Streets! Safe Homes!” As darkness fell, with the Railway Station bustling with people rushing home from work, approximately 300 women and men of all religions, ethnicities and ages, began their Walk, signifying the need for safety for women on the streets at night. Among the participants were women and men from all walks of life, including women politicians, eminent professors and women’s rights activists. Each participant carried a torch and the Walk began with a lusty chorus of slogans that called for safety for women – at night, on the streets and in their homes. The slogans strongly condemned attitudes that took the night time away from women through negative societal attitudes. The occurrence of sexual violence is often attributed to the dress the women wore at the time of attack or to the time she was out on the streets.

The IWD Walk was a timely effort in the context of the rising incidence of violence against women in our country. As we are all aware, women and girls who commute after dusk, walk the streets gripped by fear of different degrees of violence ranging from catcalls, sexual harassment to gang rape. Women just like other citizens of this country have the right to walk the streets fearlessly at all times whether it be in the village or in the town. “Recent cruel and horrendous crimes perpetrated against women in our country, compel us to collectively raise our voices to put an end to sexual violence,” said a participant.

The active participation of women and men of all ages was significant and was indicative of the fact that this was a concern not only of women but society as a whole. The slogans shouted out in all three languages signified this issue as one that affects all women of our country. One young woman expressed it this way “sexual violence affects our families, homes and our loved ones, and we need to break the silence around it that has hidden its occurrence and prevented adequate action.”

The Walk ended up at the Galle Face Green with speeches by Women’s Rights Activists, Lawyers and women politicians and the media. Meaningful creations in poetry and song were rendered which added to the mood of the IWS Walk.

The event ended with a Statement of hope read in all three languages by the Women’s Education and Research Centre:

“From here, we march on, in the hope of a better future for women - where nights are safe, the streets without violence and their homes are safe. We march on in hope!”

Vigilant committee trainings

Oxfam in support of the National action plan to address sexual and gender based violence, supported the Ministry of women and child affairs to pilot vigilant committee trainings in 6 divisional secretariats in Killinochchi, Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kalutara and Hatton. This included the training of 300 government officials including divisional women unit officials and Grama Niladhari’s. Through the trainings the administration has been able to create vigilance to prevent and intervene Sexual and Gender Based Violence in these divisional secretariats.

Supporting 16 Days of Activism with the GBV Forum in 2017

Oxfam and partners travelled to Batticoloa to raise awareness on violence and discrimination faced by women in politics. The Batticoloa Bus Station brought together an enthusiastic crowd, who (despite the rain!) enjoyed the street drama performance and educational sessions on women’s right to participate in elections with no threat to their safety.

Research Design and Social Norms Workshop

In support of Oxfam’s ENOUGH campaign, Oxfam in Sri Lanka hosted Sharanya Sekarem and Anam Parvez (from Oxfam GB) who brought together a group of partners, private-sector and government official and activists, to better understand the many facets of gender-based harassment in public transport.

Ongoing research

Oxfam’s facilitators are currently in Batticoloa and Kilinochchi (and will be in Kandy soon) where the first leg of our research is underway. The team is working to collect data on harassment in public transport in support of our ENOUGH campaign research.

One Billion Rising Batticaloa

GBV. Trailer

Launch of One Billion Rising (OBR) Sri Lanka and the 16 Days of Activism against GBV. Trailer