Saturday, October 12, 2013

SHOW You Care Launch

After the phenomenal success of the SHOW you care campaign in 2012, the campaign was back for a second year with it’s launch being held at Vihara Mahadevi Park Open Air Theatre on Wednesday 25th of September.

With a turnout of over 150 people with students from Ananda College, Wesley College, St Peter’s College, Methodist College, Hindu College and Thurstain College in attendance, the event was kicked off with a presentation which drew attention to existing laws and legal measures relevant to sexual harassment in Sri Lanka and outlined the aims and objectives of the campaign.

3 guest speakers were in attendance, Shyamala Gomez of Fokus and Gender Advisor at United Nations, Neela Marrikar a women’s activist and Chairperson at Grant McCann Erickson along with Caryll Tozer Founder of Women in Need. With their extensive experience in dealing with victims of harassment, the ladies were able to give an insight into the psychological and emotional repercussions experienced by victims of harassment. The speakers engaged in an interactive session with the school children discussing their perspectives on harassment and how they have previously responded when witnessing harassment, with the issue of how to tackle harassment being addressed.

Many celebrities endorsed the SHOW you care campaign and Randir- one of the campaign’s ardent supporters- made a guest appearance, entertaining the crowd with his hits. The action packed campaign continued with a series of forum theatre skits which further conveyed the message of the impact of harassment of women’s daily lives. A series of video clips of Members of Sri Lanka Unites themselves sharing and reflecting on their experiences of harassment on public transport etc strengthened the sense of empathy that had developed among the volunteers. The evening was wrapped up with a candle-lit vigil and the students left with not only with a deeper understanding of the laws surrounding harassment, but with a greater awareness of the impact of harassment thus encouraging them to take pro-active steps to stop the progression of this issue.

The impact the launch had on the volunteers was evident when many of them took to the buses of Colombo on September 30th to speak out about the current laws on sexual harassment, distributing emergency numbers to all female commuters, in addition to pasting stickers re-iterating the laws and emergency numbers on the buses. We therefore hope that through this sense of solidarity that has developed and through the youth spreading the word we will be able to effectively reduce harassment in our community.

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