A video of a girl slapping a man at the Wariyapola bus stand went viral on social media sites recently. In a country where many women’s rights activists are active, so far none of the activists or such organizations had commented on the event. Instead of having an open discussion, the girl who slapped the man was highly criticized through the social media. The entire incident was marketed in many ways. So far no one has been bold enough to open the floor to discuss about the harassment which women face on a daily basis. Today the Dailymirror opens the floor.
he Dailymirror first spoke to the victim, Thilini Amalka, about the incident as she claims the media have not reported the facts correctly.
“On that day I came to the bus stand around 11.30 a.m. with a friend. That man followed me asking for my phone number but I ignored him. Even after I got in to the bus he followed me asking for my number. When I refused his advances again he got down and made some indecent gestures at me. Then he came and asked for my number once again. Many people were watching us. Once I got on the bus he followed me and was pestering me for my phone number. I rang the bell and got down from the bus,” she said.
According to Thilini she had reacted violently only because she could not stand the abuse any longer but she also wished to clear up a misconception of the public. She said that the slapping incident had taken place before the video coverage of the incident ever took place. She also said that when she got down at the Wariyapola bus stand the time-keeper had come to her aid after she related the incident to him. He too had slapped the man and dragged him to the place which was shown on the video.
Thilini explains, “There were hundreds of men in the town. Many people saw what he did to me. But no one came forward to stop him. Later, I got to know that he had been gallivanting in town from morning. Since it was a Saturday many children who attend private tuition classes were also standing around,” she said. She said that none of the men who were in close vicinity to the place where the incident took place came to her rescue. They were too busy videoing what was happening. According to some media reports I had hit that man for about 45 minutes. This is incorrect. People were just standing around watching,” she said.
Thilini said that none of the media outlets had done justice to her.
“Many Television channels, print media and certain websites have created many stories out of the incident. Some of the TV channels which reported the incident did not even take comments from women. What they highlighted was that the man and gotten a severe beating at the hands of a woman. But why don’t they talk about what women go through every day?” she asked.
She said that she feared the country was coming to a point where even if a woman raped in broad daylight people would be more interested in making a video of it than taking action to stop it.
“People will still record and video even if a woman gets raped. Is it wrong to stand for my rights?,” she said.
Thilini said she would take action against sections of the media which published false information. When theDailymirror asked whether any women’s rights organizations approached her she said so far none had done so.
“I will be taking legal action against the media groups which published false information. Although there are many women’s rights’ organizations so far none contacted me. I have a strong family around me that’s the strength I have,” she said.
Many people saw what he did to me. But no one came forward to stop him. Later, I got to know that he had been gallivanting in town from morning. Since it was a Saturday many children who attend private tuition classes were also standing around
Slapping him must have been the last resort
Parliamentarian Sudharshani Fernandopulle
(SLFP) said it was possible the woman would have slapped the man as a last resort.
“Justifying the girls’ action depends on what he did. Men also try to do different things which make women uncomfortable. May be same thing must have happened in this incident too. And as the last resort the girl must have slapped him. Well, it is always better if we can resolve issues amicably by discussing. But there are certain circumstances that it is not possible,” she said.
She said it appeared that sections of the media had not given a balanced report on this.
“In incidents like these media highlight only one aspect. Equal space must be given and both the parties must be heard. The MP said according to the girl’s story the man had harassed her for a long time and we need to support her. There might also be needed to see whether the man needed psychological treatment. There are people with mental disorders. They put out their private organs and make indecent gestures in public. Such people need medical assistance. Therefore we must look at that aspect as well,” said Ms. Fernandopulle who is also a medical doctor.
The MP said the law also must be implemented, without just carrying posters.
Justifying the girls’ action depends on what he did. Men also try to do different things which make women uncomfortable
Women’s rights are human rights
UNP Parliamentarian Rosy Senanayake
said during the past two years violence against women had increase by twenty percent.
“Society must realise that women’s rights are human rights. Men must realize that women are not just objects for consumption. I salute the woman who stood up for her rights,” she said.
Ms Senanayake said she had in Parliament often raised questions about violence against women.
“According to reports at least six women are the victims of violence every day. The horror of it is that four of these victims are children. From 2008-2012 number of people who have been put behind bars for violence against women is less than 700. This is a low figure when compared to the number of cases. This is because the state has failed to criminalize the criminals,” she said.
She said another problem was that only a few women were involved in the decision making processes in the country.
“We brag about producing the first female Prime Minister, but the parliament of 225 members has only 13 female MPs. There are women who are highly qualified but they are not well paid. Even today we live in a world where many men think that women’s place is in the kitchen,”.
Ms. Senanayake said irrespective their background women must fight for their rights.
From 2008-2012 number of people who have been put behind bars for violence against women is less than 700
Men think it is fine to harass women
Samanmalee Gunasinghe- National Organizer of JVP
affiliated Samajawadi Kantha Sangamay said the vide only showed a girl assaulting a man who appeared to be not retaliating.
“According to statement made later the man had made crude comments about the girl’s attire. Nobody has a right to comment on another person’s attire. But at the same time I think for a matter like that we should not go to the level of violence,” she said.
According to Ms. Gunasinghe assaulting someone in self defense is justifiable, but in this incident she believed force was used not in self defense.
“From what I saw this may be a case of excess force. The girl questions the man saying “do you know who I am?”. It suggests she has some sort of powerful backing. At every minute, even at this very minute I am talking to you a woman is being sexually abused or harassed in this country,” she said.
Ms. Gunasinghe said that it was not only the men who should be blamed but society as a whole.
“We have a society which creates men who think it is fine to harass women. It is the society which generates ideas or perceptions about women. Men tend to see women as sex objects from what they see around,” she said.
The JVP added: “There were more serious incidents reported, some of them involved politicians. But little or no action was taken while undue publicity was given to an incident like this. There are politicians who were charged with rape. I wonder why such incidents are not being discussed and given more publicity,” she said.
We have a society which creates men who think it is fine to harass women. It is the society which generates ideas or perceptions about women. Men tend to see women as sex objects from what they see around,