BY Pamodi Waravita and Ruwani FonsekaThe Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya, the Women’s Wing of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), yesterday (21) demanded an apology from Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi, claiming he “indirectly sexually harassed a female parliamentarian”, whilst Kuttiarachchi responded by saying such claims are only a result of “vulgar minds”.Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, SJB member Hirunika Premachandra said: “As the SJB, and especially as women, we cannot take Tissa Kuttiarachchi’s statement lightly. This was not a comment which was merely directed against the Opposition members. This is how SLPP members and, especially SLPP male members, see women and how they think about women. The best example of that was how the male members sitting behind him laughed when he made that comment and took it as a joke.“We consider this as a form of indirect sexual harassment and we demand a public apology from Kuttiarachchi, on behalf of all women. We invite all women to participate with us in a Facebook campaign to demand this public apology as we all face various types of abuse every day, both knowingly and unknowingly.”On Friday (20), Kuttiarachchi made the following statements in Parliament, in Sinhalese, about SJB MP Rohini Kavirathna as well as SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s wife: “Yesterday (Thursday, 19 November), Rohini Kavirathna shamelessly asked us whether we went to the market recently and how much brinjals and green leaves cost. Go and ask that from Sajith Premadasa’s wife. Why are you asking us that?” questioned Kuttiarachchi.However, Kuttiarachchi, speaking to The Morning yesterday, dismissed these allegations and said that “Sri Lankans who have manipulated his statement about vegetables have a vulgar mind”.“Is it wrong to quote vegetables and fruits in Parliament? I only mentioned the names of vegetables that came to my mind at that time, and SJB MP Rohini Kavirathna and Sajith Premadasa’s wife’s name were the names that popped to mind at that time. People can think whichever way they want. I only spoke about vegetables and that is that,” he said.When asked whether he thinks that he should apologise to the women he had quoted during his statement in Parliament, Kuttiarachchi responded by saying that he would only apologise if he is wrong.“I didn’t say anything wrong. If Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa can say ‘sapada’ in Parliament and rallies, this is not wrong as well. I will not apologise for my statement as I did nothing wrong,” he concluded.Premachandra accused the “Rajapaksa camp” and the SLPP of habitually harbouring known harassers of both women and children, referring to the famous cases of “Saruwa Sunil”, who has allegedly abused over 100 women, and “Galle Raththaran”, who has allegedly abused a 16-year-old child.She added: “I hope the SLPP female MPs will also join us in condemning his comments. We personally know that these SLPP female MPs also face a lot of harassment from the party. I know since I was also part of this camp – they make a habit of publicly making the women members uncomfortable.“Why are MP Geetha Kumuarasinghe and Minister of Transport Pavithra Waniarachchi silent? What are your thoughts on his statement? Tissa Kuttiarachchi will join the next government too – whichever party that leads it – and make the same statements about future Opposition members too. One day, maybe, Namal Rajapaksa’s wife will also have to hear the same thing.”Prior to the parliamentary elections in August 2020, widespread outrage was sparked over what was deemed an “insulting and offensive comment”, allegedly made by PM Rajapaksa at a political rally against Premadasa and his wife.