ENOUGH Workshop - Katunayake
Over the past few months, Oxfam in Sri Lanka has been carrying out workshops focused on the topic of "Social norms that perpetuate Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Public Transport" in Sri Lanka.
Sessions were conducted in Kandy, Batticoloa, Killinochchi and Colombo; with the most recent held within the Katunayake Free Trade Zone. Locations were selected based on recorded data of harassment occuring in public transportation. Participants ranged from several age groups (18-30, 31-45, etc.) representing various socio-cultural demographics.
Our workshop in Katunayake saw the participation of over 20 individuals between the ages of 25-50 male and females. Many were employed within the Free Trade Zone; others were housewives and small-scale business owners. Every one had a story to tell, ranging from their own experiences of harassment or instances where they witness sexual/verbal harrassment while using public transport. The one-day session was not limited to discussions alone; the group was involved in generating their model of the 'ideal man/woman,' acting out topic-related scenarios as well as activities which helped break down various components which typically lead to acts of sexual harassment.
The findings from the series of workshops are to be incorporated into Oxfam's research into "Social norms that perpetuate Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Public Transport". The research is part of Oxfam's global ENOUGH campaign. This research was supported on the ground level by Chrysalis in Killinochchi, You Lead in Kandy, WUSC in Batticaloa and Stand Up Movement in Katunayake.
Participants of the Katunayake workshop - an enthusiastic group of men and women who engaged in eye-opening discussions on social norms, personal experiences and opinions on harassment faced in public transport.
The vibrant young male participants were eager to offer their opinions; learning from the stories shared and contributing to group activities.
"We've experienced harrassment and we know how to react stronger. I only hope that younger victims are able to stand up to themselves too."
Part of the workshop included enacting scenarios of harrassment in public transport. They incorporated social norms as a method of understanding how some restrictive mentalities are potentially harmful towards victims of public harassment.
"We shared a lot and we learned a lot. Our only hope is that the relevant authorities take a greater concern towards implementing safeguarding mechanisms."
Our versatile facilitators kept the participants active and engaged by creating a healthy, safe environment to share opinions and suggestions.
Constructing the 'ideal man/woman' was a lively exercise, which encouraged participants to think about personalilty and physical traits they found desirable in both men and women. This help idealize what the majority found to be acceptable and attractive.