Intercity bus pulled in. The mad rush converged in towards the door. When the bus pulled out a few minutes later all the seats had men and the few women who ventured into the bus were all standing. The women, young and old, who stood no chance of forcing their way in to the bus, had to undergo the same experience when the next bus pulled in.
Lanka my island doesn’t treat its women proper. It’s a simple fact. And excuses would only negate the validity of the counterpoint.
The happening at the bus stop is a violation against women simply put. Physical force to shove one’s way through by pushing aside the women and children who stand before them is a violation.
Take the case of the train and the dash to get the seats in the second class compartments. No woman of Sri Lanka has the right to find a seat there in unless of course she’s accompanied by a male. While the seats are filled by men, the majority of the standing passengers are almost always the females.
By rather crude assumption, both the intercity bus and the secondclass cabin of railway are patronized not by the poor of Sri Lanka. They are in the domain of the middle class more or less. But if the attitudes of that educated and rather ‘civilized’ segment of the population is this, little needs to be said about their contribution to the fortunes of Lanka.
The oddity is that the men in the economy class cabins and crowded buses are more humane towards the women and they do most often stand up to invite a tired female to take up his seat.
So do we as a nation lose our male characteristic when the price of the ticket is a few rupees more, is a question which is definitely pertinent.
The examples above are two very obvious occurrences in our daily lives where the harassment and humiliation of women in our society takes place in broad daylight in the open view of others. Little needs to be said that we as a nation need an urgent rethink of the way we treat the other half of our population who actually comprise more than half the total number living in the island.
Let’s accept the fact that violence against women is prevalent and common place. There’s no point arguing otherwise. Just think of the massive time we have to allocate in a week to act as the bodyguards of our women, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.
How much of their opportunities do we block and thus discourage them from trying simply due to our assumption that their security may be at stake?
It’s absolutely true that Sri Lanka needs to stand against the rising rate of violent crimes against women. But while being at that, let’s change our own attitudes to ensure that simple physical force to overpower the women of Sri Lanka in their public rights is a violation too.