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Whistle blowers against sexual harassment

(Mizzima) – A sign of changing times in Burma: a high profile public campaign to end sexual harassment on public buses by blowing a whistle.

Rangoon buses are overcrowded in the morning and evening rush hours, causing many women to complain of sexual harassment. Photo: MizzimaThe campaign is being promoted on Rangoon’s bus lines by bus companies, drivers, conductors, politicians and volunteers, according to an article in The Myanmar Times published on Monday.

Volunteers have distributed whistles and pamphlets to women at eight crowded bus stops in Rangoon on Tuesday mornings in February, and they plan to continue for nine months.

Women are advised to blow the whistle if they experience sexual harassment on the bus, said the English-language newspaper.

Daw Htar Htar, a member of the campaign committee, told The Myanmar Times that women regularly experienced sexual harassment on the city’s bus network but most were unwilling to report it.

 “Our body is not their sex object,” she said. “Why should we keep silent with our head down? It is time to go against it. We can’t work alone but need all helping hands to go against it so that we can create a beautiful, safe and secure environment.”

In response to the campaign, some bus lines have experimented with women-only buses.

One bus driver told the newspaper that sexual harassment has existed on buses for a long time.

“In the past, if we tried to stop it [men] reacted violently ... but with this campaign we can send a similar message [in a non-violent way],” he said, adding the harassment was worse during the evening rush hour.
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 February 2012 15:41 )  

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