Sri Lanka gym gets bitter workout over sexist hoarding

ECONOMYNEXT – An upmarket Battaramulla gym was forced to withdraw its "sexist and offensive" billboard which attempted to drum up business by saying women should not look like a rusted barrel.

"This is no shape for a woman" said the hoarding which showed a rusty oil drum with an invitation to join "Sri Lanka’s hottest gym and get into the shape you deserve."

The sign at Rajagiriya along the Ceremonial Drive to parliament provoked a thorough work out for the gym on its social media accounts with users accusing the gym, an affiliate of the  Bluemountain group, of being sexist and offensive.

"How can you put a very sexist add comparing women to a rusted barrel," asked one facebook user Raj Alagendran.

On Friday, the giant sign was covered with black plastic sheets. Following the barrage of barbs on social media, the gym said on its facebook page that the billboard was to create awareness of obesity among women in the country.

The gym did not apologise for causing offense, but said its intention was not to insult or offend

Women, but deputy minister Harsha de Silva who represents the Kotte constituency said he got the municipality to cover the billboard with black plastic sheets.

“I asked the Colombo MC Commissioner to remove this unapproved offensive hoarding. I would not tolerate this in Kotte. #SriLanka,” de Silva said on twitter.

By Friday night, an impromptu trilingual sign appeared on top of the offending billboard saying: “No more space for sexism.”





However, another facebook user lamented that the gym was getting free publicity: "Now, unfortunately, they are getting free advertising with everyone talking about it! Just Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!," said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera.

"Jesus WTF… well it goes with the current thinking of women in SL (Sri Lanka). Did you hear, we cant even be trusted with alcohol," said Nadeeni Perera.

She was referring to President Maithripala Sirisena last week re-imposing a four-decade-long ban on women buying liquor, just days after his liberal finance minister Mangala Samaraweera had lifted the restriction.

The reversal comes after a finance ministry official said Samaraweera had revoked the 39-year-old law in an effort to strike sexist bills from the statute books.

A group of Sri Lankan women are petitioning the Supreme Court to get the ban removed, but no date has been fixed yet for a hearing.

(COLOMBO, Jan 20, 2018)

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