John Keells Foundation (JKF) – the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) entity of the John Keells Group – conducted a public awareness campaign against sexual harassment, targeting commuters of public transport for the second successive year, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women falling on 25th November.
Over 100 staff volunteers from across the John Keells Group actively participated in the campaign conducted on 24th November 2017 centred round three of Colombo’s busiest stations – Fort, Maradana and Slave Island railway stations – as well as the railway yard in Colombo and involved pasting stickers inside the compartments and handing out information cards to commuters throughout the day, with the cooperation of the Sri Lanka Railway Authority.
The one-day campaign involved the pasting of 2000 stickers in Sinhala, Tamil and English, with the warning that Sexual Harassment is a punishable offence under the Penal Code together with the 24-hour police hotline open to victims of sexual harassment, and underlining the public’s individual and collective responsibility to build a society free of harassment. Approximately 30,000 information cards were also distributed amongst commuters. Accordingly, the campaign is estimated to reach a cumulative total of over 100, 000 commuters. Parallel to the public campaign, a social media campaign and internal campaign involving awareness material and the distribution of glass bottles with the tagline ‘Zero Tolerance: I stand against Violence’ were also undertaken by JKF as part of the commemorative activities.
Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya – John Keells’ Head of Operations, CSR, stated “We are delighted to note the success of John Keells Foundation’s second public transport campaign targeting train commuters of the City, following last year’s pilot campaign targeting bus commuters. We consider education and awareness of people as a primary and critical step in changing attitudes and behaviours when it comes to combating gender based violence which has become a growing menace in society. The encouraging response we have received from the railway authorities and commuters has amply demonstrated the need for continuing similar campaigns in the future. I must also commend the overwhelming response we received from over 100 John Keells staff volunteers whose enthusiastic engagement enabled us to conduct this public awareness campaign successfully.”
Lasith Samayawardena, a John Keells volunteer who participated in the campaign said, “this is strong initiative taken by John Keells to address the pressing issue of sexual harassment in our public transport system. I am happy and proud to be a part of this noble cause for change.”