As I work on the table I have claimed in my office, I feel the cool breeze from the fan up above and the gentle wind from the recent rain shower. My steaming cup of Dilmah tea soothes and refreshes me as I work on my projects. The SHOW You Care event is this coming Saturday, and I feel the excitement build as the team works towards this long-awaited day. Participants start to confirm their attendance and announcements and reminders about the event flow from everyone’s lips. SHOW You Care team members continue to swamp Facebook with posts, pictures, liking, commenting, and then sharing them to all their friend groups.
I have been living on Sri Lanka’s resplendent island for the past four weeks, and am so grateful for the love, hospitality, and safety that I have felt here. But this is not the case for all young women in Sri Lanka. Since I am an American nineteen-year-old, sometimes it seems as if I am a little girl who needs to be babysat and who is not allowed to go anywhere alone. I understand that my hosts are rightfully cautious and want to make sure I stay safe, but I also understand that not all young women in Sri Lanka have that security.
Working on the SHOW You Care campaign has enabled me to learn about a prevalent difficulty that most Sri Lankan women endure: sexual harassment on public transportation. The most eye opening experience that I have had while working on this campaign has been creating a video testimonial over the past couple of weeks. One morning I interviewed several young women who have experienced sexual harassment on public spaces. These women shared very personal stories about their encounters with harassment, and how those made them feel degraded and undervalued. While the extent of my bothersome experiences with men here has been limited to incessant stares from men as I drive through Colombo, as a young woman my heart aches for the countless women who experience extreme harassment.
SHOW You Care is a setting where issues related to gender based violence can be addressed in an open forum. SHOW You Care is also a place where men themselves can take the lead in stopping the harassment and stepping in to protect women. I am so grateful to be a part of SHOW You Care, and am looking forward to a future where women can feel safe in Colombo.
(Intern for Sri Lanka Unites)