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He continued to touch me

One day, I took the bus from Colombo Fort, and I sat on the seat on a three-seater. I was seated near the window when a man came and sat next to me very closely, even though there was enough space on the other side. He sat near me on the three-person seat. He was trying to lean on me.

I moved further towards the window. But he continued to touch me. He then started to stomp on my feet. I asked him to move away because the aisle seat was empty. He said he was in his space and couldn’t move further. I asked him why he was pushing me like that. He accused me and said I was not letting him sit properly. I said, “OK, you wait there and I’ll stand up.”

When I was standing near the seat, the conductor asked me why I was standing. I told him I was standing because the man next to me is not allowing me to sit. Then the man started accusing me of not letting him sit properly. The conductor started laughing.

I was angry because the conductor, who could have helped, was taking the perpetrator’s side. I asked the conductor why he was laughing. He did not blame the perpetrator. I asked him if he had no mother or sisters, and I asked him if he would laugh like that if the victim was one of them.

All the passengers in the bus were looking, but no one did anything. After another passenger got off, the conductor asked me to move to that seat. That was all he did.

These things always happen in buses and trains. The blame is always on the victim. The perpetrator is never held accountable. People don’t speak up or come forward during incidences of sexual harassment. They act like nothing is happening.

Photos © Eliza Hatch/Cheer Up Luv for UNFPA and Videos © Studio Zoo

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