John Keells Foundation (JKF), the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of John Keells Group (JKH) initiated a public awareness campaign against sexual harassment, targeting commuters of public transport, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women falling on 25 November.
Over 120 staff volunteers from across JKH actively participated in the campaign carried out at four of Colombo’s busiest bus depots in Colombo – Pettah Central Bus Stand, Bastian Mawatha Private Bus Stand, Gunasinghepura Private Bus Stand and the Borella Bus stand, to paste stickers inside the buses and hand over information cards throughout the day, with the cooperation of the Sri Lanka Transport Board and the Western Province Provincial Road Passenger Transport Authority.
This campaign targeted to paste 1,150 stickers in Sinhala and Tamil, with the warning that sexual harassment is a punishable offence under the Penal Code along with the emergency hotline of Sri Lanka Transportation Bureau to report harassment (1955) and underlining our individual and collective responsibility to build a society free of harassment. Approximately 30,000 information cards were distributed amongst commuters. Parallel to the public campaign, an internal campaign involving awareness posters, a staff pledge board and pinning of the white ribbon were undertaken across the John Keells Group.
Speaking on the public campaign, JKF Head of Operations CSR Carmeline Jayasuriya explained, “This initiative was carried out as a part of John Keells Foundation’s Project WAVE (Working Against Violence through Education), which is an ongoing long-term initiative on preventing gender-based violence and child abuse through education and awareness designed to progressively encompass the employees of the John Keells Group, various vulnerable communities associated with the Group’s business locations and the public.
“While the bus campaign was the first initiative within our public phase since the launch of the project in November 2014, awareness sessions have been conducted in all sectors of the John Keells Group including Head Office, Leisure, Consumer Foods and Retail, IT, Transportation and Financial Services as well as external communities such as lawyers, police officers and school children and reached over 13,000 persons.
“We are extremely proud and appreciative of the overwhelming response we received from our staff volunteers in implementing the public awareness campaign successfully. The encouraging response we have received from the bus authorities, drivers, conductors and commuters, has amply demonstrated the need for continuing similar campaigns in the future.”