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Exposed his private parts to us

My experience happened to me when I was twelve years old. It was during my school holidays, so my friend and I took the bus to Kandy with my mother. When we were travelling, a man who was about forty to fifty years old started looking at us and smiling.

After a while, he started behaving inappropriately. He opened his zipper and exposed his private parts to us. My friend showed me, and she got so scared. When I realized what was happening, I told my mother. My mother got really angry and started shouting at the man.

The sad part was, there were so many men around us but nobody stepped forward to help us.

My mother tried to chase him off the bus, but nothing worked. He was there the entire time we were travelling, and we were the ones who were uncomfortable. At the time, we didn’t have much knowledge about it, so we didn’t know how to react.

After that incident, I was more vigilant about my safety. Now I always keep a small pin to prick people if they try to harass me on the bus.

In Sri Lanka, even if you report an incident of sexual harassment on public transport, not much is done. Sex education, protection and awareness programmes are not accessible to everyone in this country. That could be one of the reasons why some girls get harassed. I am always concerned about my safety, so now I always try to be prepared.

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

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UNFPA, the lead UN agency responding to gender-based violence in emergencies, is working with the Government of Sri Lanka to tackle sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence, wherever they occur. UNFPA advocates for women and girls at the highest level and engages them in efforts to find lasting solutions. Yet more can be done to protect women and girls and hold their perpetrators to account. You can help. 

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