5 March, 2024


A Land Like No Other: 5 Rapes A Day, But Does Anyone Care

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Nadia Fazlulhaq

Last week’s alleged rape of a 47-year old woman in Wijerama and an attempted rape of a 25-year old German tourist in Chilaw, have once again raised the question, how safe are women in our country—both local and foreign. According to statistics, five rapes are reported daily while the unreported cases could make the figure higher.

Among the women’s’ group workers and activists who spoke to the Sunday Times, Lak Vanitha Front president Shanthini Kongahage voicing concern said many women relied on three-wheeler drivers to ask for road directions. She said many of them also opted to take three wheelers for short distances especially if they were too exhausted to travel home after work in over crowded buses. “ It is unfortunate for a woman to be a victim of rape at around 7.30 p.m. near a place close to the Colombo city,” she said commenting on the incident in Wijerama.

“There were a number of rape and murder cases in Kahawatte last year and a female foreigner was raped by a gang that included the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman. Though investigations were conducted with regard to the rape there was no final report,” she said.

Tourists enjoying the sun and the sand on a beach in the South. Incidents of sexual harassmnt of foreigners have been on the rise.

Sherine Samarasooriya of Voice of Women said it was important to join and actively get involved in a public outcry against rapists.

“When we travel to villages, women plead with us to open up shelters where they can spend the night when they are chased away by their drunken husbands at night. Similarly these shelters should be put up for women who travel long distances. The state should support organisations to initiate such programmes,” she said.

Women and Media Collective’s Dr. Sepali Kottegoda said since the gang rape of Rita John in the late 90’s there have been thousands of reported rapes and murders but unfortunately there hasn’t been enough public reaction and activism.
“Politicians are often ignorant of the fact that rape cases are increasing in the country and most often local politicians or their goons are involved. There is a tendency of justifying the crime stating that the victim is a sex worker. Nobody, not even a sex worker should be subject to rape,” she charged.

This increasing trend could drive away female tourists, especially Europeans who choose the country as a getaway holiday destination. On Wednesday, a 25 year-old German national who was holidaying in Iranawila, Chilaw narrowly escaped being raped by a local while she was sunbathing on the beach.

According to Chilaw police the foreigner was part of a group who had come to the country a couple of days before and who had chosen a beach front motel in Chilaw. On Wednesday (30) evening she had been lying on the beach enjoying the sunset, when the 28-year-old suspect had jumped on her body and attempted to allegedly rape her. However the woman had managed to kick the suspect and run to the motel. The suspect was arrested and produced in courts.

A European national who works as a gender consultant in Sri Lanka told the Sunday Times that a number of European women who come as tourists complain of being harassed but most do not go to the extent of complaining to police fearing it would ruin their holiday.

“A white girlfriend was really shocked and angered after a man on a motorbike grabbed her breasts outside her apartment and a lot of my friends get routinely stopped on the street and accused of prostitution for merely being a white female,” she charged.

She said while the increasing incidents of rape were horrendous and sickening, the incidents were examples of how the country ignores and accepts violence against women and girls across the country. “This would be the same with foreign women as most men here assume that white women are there solely for their pleasure,” she said.

In recent years there have been many cases of foreign women being raped. On Christmas Eve, 2011, a British national was killed and his foreign companion allegedly gang raped by a group led by Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman.
Similarly, the same year, another five men were arrested while attempting to molest a 23-year-old Swedish national who was walking on the beach in Negombo. Another woman from New Zealand reported being harassed in Mihintale where two men had tried to drag her to a public toilet while her husband was not in sight.

A South African tourist was allegedly raped by hotel employee in Kalptiya, while another incident was reported from Odiha, Matara where the motel owner had attempted to rape a 25 year-old Dutch tourist.

According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority, tourists from Western Europe top the list of tourists in 2011 and 2012. Last year, 373,063 had arrived in the country with the vast majority from Britain, Germany and France followed by South Asian tourists.

Meanwhile Tourist Police Director SSP Maxi Proctor said it was important to take harassment related complaints seriously and implement new measures to curb the rising menace. “We are in the process of establishing Tourist Police posts in all tourist-oriented destinations from coastal areas to inland areas like Nuwara-Eliya, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa,” he said.

At present there are only two police posts, in Hikkaduwa and Negombo. According to him, new posts will be established in Mount Lavinia and Arugam Bay too. SSP Proctor said new emergency hotline numbers would be introduced and given to tourists at the airport enabling them to report any harassment or attempted rape during their stay.

“There have been complaints with regard to harassment especially by beach boys and masseurs,” he said. Yuveraj Athukorale, director (media) of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (formerly Tourist Board) said there have been complaints of harassment especially from groups of men in three-wheelers and men who pose as masseurs.

“Tourists who lodge in cheap motels are often victims of such violence. It is important to stay in Tourist Board-approved resorts and motels. We have requested the police to raid massage parlours especially in tourist destinations. Tourists can also call our hotline 1912,” he said.

Meanwhile Tourist Hotels Association Past President Srilal Miththapala said there have been reports of attempted rapes in the recently declared tourist destinations.

“Places like Tangalle, Chilaw and Matara are among the newly declared tourist zones and there are many inland tourist zones as well. There are huge cultural differences and people in the areas still believe that white skin means promiscuity, especially because of their independence, attire and body language,” he added.

He said tourist hotels were willing to support the police in educating the public in these areas. National Mental Health Institute Director Dr. Jayan Mendis said the country failed to provide therapy to rapists apart from the prison sentence or bail. “Rape is not about uncontrolled lust. It’s about control over another person and an opportunistic act of violence,” he said adding that rapists are those with personality disorders and even after being released to the society after serving prison sentence, they tend to commit the same crime unless the person goes through intense therapy.
According to United States’ Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 50–90 percent of rapes go unreported and about six percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

The Asian Human Rights Commission said in a statement that in Sri Lanka while there is a public acknowledgement of the existence of widespread lawlessness involving particularly shocking offences against women, the public itself reacts to these events apathetically.

“There is no energetic pursuit of justice or demands for accountability from the government. While the rest of the south Asian countries are rising to demand better performance from their governments and the creation of efficiently functioning law enforcement agencies to protect all citizens with particular emphasis on the more vulnerable groups such as women, in Sri Lanka crimes continue to take place with impunity,” the report said.

Courtesy Sunday Times

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Sri Lanka is fast gaining a reputation for rape and sexual abuse. The reason for this type of behaviour is not clear as there are no overly restrictions on marraige and consensual sex in society.

    This type of violence may be caused by loose moral and ethical standards. It is noted that our leaders, the law enforcement and even the clergy do not set a good example.

    • 1

      I agree with you. There is no doubt about it. MR himself has released those convicted accused who were found guilty by the SC for rape and murder of Krishanthi. Now one of the Chief Bhikkus of Kelaniya has led the way and the Police are reluctant to prosecute him. Just imagine if Sangamitta had been alive today. It won’t be a surprice if this happens even within the Police and Military. One ponders whether Wimal and Mervyn will come to the rescue of these helpless women. This is what is meant by Rule of Law in Sri Lanka.

  • 0


    Hival Modawangsa and Vermin Sivala, the two academics of the MR government will say like that.

    • 0

      There is no fabrication,
      Your country is full of perverts , danger for white solo females, stupid sri lanks morons are desperate to touch white skin.
      We are making travel advise blog, to advise people about sri lanka perverts

  • 0

    The women’s NGOs should at least seek and release Justice Verma’s brilliant report and recommendation after the Delhi rape and invite justices Shett and Subramaniam (Verma’s visa was denied) to Lanka to speak on the subject since all the recommendations are relevant to the Sri Lanka situation.

    Are the Colombo NGO ladies and their cronies asleep in Geneva or too busy spending donor funds in the international conference circuit to launch even a tiny protest?!

  • 0

    Rapes and attempted rapes occur in any country, whether these are in the 1st world or the 3rd world.

    Not sure about the 2nd world ,because people who assign this world status have lumped the lot of us, S Asians in the bottom.

    Only countries that do not have rapes are where Sharia Law is in place.

    Then these guradians of our inhabitant’s human rights such as this vociferous AHRC who seem to keep a special eye on us wouldn’t have a bar of that in our Motherland.

    Would they ?.

    There were two violent rapes in our part of the 1st world recently , where two young women were abducted from busy streets, raped and murdered.

    But Journos never wrote these sort of articles pinning the blame on the country or the inhabitants or the Govt.

    In fact disscussing these rapes were banned, because of legal implications.

    Srilankan inhabitants have had their fair share of these brutal cowardly attacks on women.

    Thankfully no lives have been lost.

    It is incorrect to imply that the whole regime condones rapes and mistreatment of womenn simply bcause one minor municipal type politician is alleged to have raped a foreigner.

    Despite all these allegations about the Govt going soft on crims,the great majority of the inhabitants are aware that the people in charge have a good record of cleaning up the streets and the prisons.

    However everytime the clensing is carried out,who comes out screaming, blue murder to protect the Human Rights of these criminals?

    • 0

      The difference between SLK and the foreign country where you are living is that when “ape minussu” that bring votes to “ME=MR” commit such crime they are excused by AGs office on instructions from Raja Gedara or its Kewattayas, whereas in your safe place of abode an impartial legal process deals with the criminal till it reaches the end of its natural course. Why don’t you go and live in SLK for 6-months, and take along your daughters (if any) and experience the difference.

  • 0

    Sri Lanka has women groups and what they do, only protesting. There is a feminist group too. what do they do ? nothing.

    How about Female politicians. They have ganged up with male politicians and are busy fooling and cheating the public.

  • 1

    Red light districts like in Amsterdam and Bangkok will solve this problem.Our politicians need to act fast and consolidate this with their Colombo beautification plans that are currently underway.

    • 0

      Who will be the Minister for Red Light areas? The Cabinet seems to expand.

  • 0

    Women like this writer are partly responsible for this problem by dressing provocatively instead of covering themselves up. We need stricter taliban type dress code for women. Have you heard of rapes in Afghanistan?

    • 1

      What a stupid comment!Anyway coming from a dust bin it seems ok.Rapes are in countries where women are not covered in a tent you say?Rape has nothing to do with the way a woman dresses or behaves,it is just how you are brought up .If a man has no self control,or respect for a woman he will not hesitate to rape a woman .BTW Afghanistan has many rapes committed by men on men as well. For your info there are many rapes in Afghanistan of women.Dont know what world you live in.Just check this out.

  • 0

    Arn’t the victims too responsible to a certain extent? Some blittle educated girls invite troubles through their behaviour coupled with the ignorance of the danger lurking around.The women’s organizations have to educate women on how to avoid troubles.Some girls and women trust strangers and go out with them and become victims.Some of these newly found friends do not stop at that. They invite their friends too.These women’s organizations have to go to work places where women work, such as garment factories and educate them on how they can prevent rapes.

  • 0

    This is all because of the former army men and their gangs scattered all over the country. All these men should be taken to custody and be jailed for long time. Then that can be exemplary to others. Almost every first world countries do the same with this kind of brutal criminals. Rajapakshes should finally handle issues of this kind of grave issues with much more considerate. Else, the nation would hate them as to no other leaders in the past.

    What happened to the guys who killed a British Man in Tangalle area a year ago ? What kind of investigation were held against ? Why the international community stay that deaf on these issues ? If things would allow to happen as Rajapakshes like – there will no longer a country that we all had in the past.

    • 0

      Unfortunately, for this govt – they seem to be powerless when it goes for handling matters related to increasing crimes in the country.

      Their silly behaviors from Police to the Judiciary seem to have done nothing but deceived the nation. Promising something totally palatable on the TV screen, doing something totally different to what was agreed upon have been become very familiar with them. One does not need to seek specific examples – almost whatever they do have ended up without proper plan. Recalling the incident – prison outbreaks recently, all these are just because they dont have principles.

      In CBK^s periods, war was its climax, but still she could manage to run srilanken carrier bringing profits to the country. Today, both two national carriers have made billions of losses.

      We cant live being enemies of International community, idiotic rulers should have to grasp this before long, else, dreams of the nation for a better future can become a like castle made on sand.

  • 0

    We are – men, women and children- being raped day in and day out in this country, on many fronts. The rape of women- a barbaric sexual assault on the females ( child, teenager or adult)- is only one symptom of a wider malaise. We are a country being increasingly insensitized to what is wrong. We are a nation losing our conscience, while we increasingly proclaim our religiosity . Our politicians and their coterie are showing us that there is nothing called sin and we have no reason to be constrained by such frivolous and foolish fears. Their success in getting away with sins of every sort, are an example to the people. Barbarism – uncivilised behaviour- is increasingly becoming a virtue in this country.

    Dr. Rajasingham. Narendran

  • 0

    sinhala buddhist monks …

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy

  • 0

    Aney what for the telling. Today Pacebook and other new new things are also sexposing our girls to these bad evils.Imagine our gamay girls also now using Pacebbok to dilly-dally with their frisky boyriends Now difficult to go to Gallepace or viharamamahadevi park but easy to do pacebook like that Shaveen kolla shouting for human rights for his mamma. Also, gamay boys sending hot hot pictures to their kellas thro their iphones. Sri Lanka now not like before.Very very hi tech. So these sort of things must stop otherwise more rapes and more abuses and good for the NCPA fellows. Something to keep them busy and get more aid money shouting abuse,abuse.

  • 0

    No commentator tied up Rapes in a Land like no other with SLs 1st prize
    winning status given by Google for Search of the word S E X! These
    are connected matters and reflects on some aspects of the Crime.

    Sitting at the top of reigning impunity is a Gotta-ffi, a Public
    Servant, who has no daughters to be worried about in this direction?

    Another salient point – we have 13 women MPP in Parliament – what
    are they doing, including the First Lady? Is delving into this a taboo subject within their sacred duties? Aren`t they more effective than
    NGOO? The Writer should have interviewed the whole bunch on this topic.

  • 0

    Jammiyathululama can now start issuing Halal certificates to
    girls so that BODHU BALA SENA can get busy shouting anti-muslim
    to save the girls from the menace!

  • 0

    One,at least one lasting action in the name of human dignity by
    at least one of the ministries,once in 25 yrs,could have largely
    eliminated sexual harassment of girls in public places which is
    deep rooted bus-train culture in Srilanka and India.Girls
    are a being looked at like sex toys by our great civilized guys
    in every part of our Island in all public places at all occasions.
    most of our girls are also to blame for not taking a principled
    stand.Parents,teachers,police and above all our legislators must be
    brought to shame for ignoring a situation falling into this low
    level of utter disgrace.It’s another good example of abusing the
    freedom of women liberty in public places.SHAME SHAME SHAME.

  • 1

    Who want to be raped? None, I suppose. But which country in this world has no rapes. None again. May be every woman should don a barque to control voluptuous imagines by sexmanics as a way to put a stop to such crimes. I agree, we too have sexmanics in Sri Lanka. For one thing, we are far far better off than India, Pakistan and etc.

    Besides, in some societies rape is acceptable. Let me quote Hadith, Sahih Muslim 3371; “We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid-conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter”

    Anyway, Nadia should have googled and read about sex related crimes in South Africa and realize that “A Land Like No Other ….” is a wrong title for her article. Five rapes per day in Sri Lanka is nothing compared to what Tutus children are committing in SA.

    IHT reported that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa. That means, in five minutes, Tutus children do twice as many rapes than our sexmaniacs do in a day. And that’s worst than in a war situation.

    IHT also said that according to South Africa’s Medical Research Council, an intimate partner murders one woman every six hours. It also said the World Health Organization has reported that the first sexual experience of 40 percent of South African women is forced. The South African police say there were 63,603 “contact crime sexual offences” in 2010-2011. So, Nadia should be happy with Sri Lanka situation in general, unless of cause she wants to join the chorus and blame Rajapakse for acts by sex maniacs as well.

    • 0

      Long time no see, but none of the readers I think have missed your comments. This time is not better than but become worst by comparisons.

      Here, again you compare srilanka ^s folks with those of Pakistan and India. Ours is a folk that has higher social indicators and only comparable those of Malaysia or similar folks only. Please be aware – when comparing ours with indians or pakis – it is not all a good comparison. Population wise, you cant even compare india with those of pakistan.

      It is time for you to change your opinion that the statistics show we have not had this much higher crime rates any times in the past. No wonder MR himself supporting crimes being on the side of Mervin Appu – and several other drug dealers – SN Silva should be right to say that your beloved leader seems to have no CAPACITY at all.


    • 0

      What about introducing this method in Sri Lanka. the news is given below.
      The governments of India, South Africa, Indonesia, etc, should give this to their young women free!
      Subject: Rape-aXe: The Anti-Rape Condom -BRILLIANT!!!

      Rape-aXe: The Anti-Rape Condom
      This is so brilliant! An anti-rape female condom invented by Sonette Ehlers.…
      A South African woman working as a blood technician with the South African Blood Transfusion Service, during which time she met and treated many rape victims.
      The device, known as The Rape-aXe, is a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing microscopic barbs that would be worn by a woman in her vagina like a tampon.
      If an attacker were to attempt vaginal rape, their penis would enter the latex sheath and be snagged by the barbs, causing the attacker pain during withdrawal and (ideally) giving the victim time to escape.
      The condom would remain attached to the attacker’s body when he withdrew and could only be removed surgically, which would alert hospital staff and police. This device could assist in the identification and prosecution of rapists.

      The anti-rape female condom

      South African inventor Sonette Ehlers demonstrates her new anti-rape female condom in Cape Town.
      Photo: Reuters

      A medieval device built on hatred of men? Or a cheap, easy-to-use invention that could free millions of South African women from fear of rape, in a country with the world’s worst sexual assault record?

      Dubbed the “rape trap”, trademarked “Rapex”, the condom-like device bristling with internal hooks designed to snare rapists has re-ignited controversy over South Africa’s alarming rape rate, even before plans for its production were announced in Western Capethis week.

      Some say the inventor, Sonette Ehlers, a former medical technician, deserves a medal, others that she needs help.

      The device, concealed inside a woman’s body, hooks onto a rapist during penetration and must be surgically removed.

      Ms Ehlers said the rape trap would be so painful for a rapist that it would disable him immediately, enabling his victim to escape; but would cause no long-term physical damage and could not injure the woman.

      Some women’s activists call the device regressive, putting the onus on women to address a male problem.

      Charlene Smith, an anti-rape campaigner, said it “goes back to the concept of chastity belts” and would incite injured rapists to kill their victims.

      “We don’t need these nut-case devices by people hoping to make a lot of money out of other women’s fear,” Ms Smith said.

      But Ms Ehlers contends that South Africa’s rape problem is so severe women cannot wait for male attitudes to improve.

      “I don’t hate men. I love men. I have not got revenge in mind. All I am doing is giving women their power back,” Ms Ehlers said. “I don’t even hate rapists. But I hate the deed with a passion.”

      The United Nations says South Africahas the world’s highest per capita rate of reported rapes – 119 per 100,000 people. Analysts say the total, including unreported rapes, could be nine times higher.

      Ms Ehlers sees her invention as particularly attractive to poorer black women, because they often walk long distances through unsafe areas to and from work. She foresees women inserting the device as part of a daily security routine.

      She said a majority of women surveyed said they were willing to use the device, which will go into production next year and sell for one rand (20 cents).

      Ms Ehlers said she was inspired after meeting a traumatised rape victim who told her, “If only I had teeth down there.”

  • 0

    What do you expect in a country where there is no sex education?

    People think that all women are horny and up for sex at anytime like what they see in porn, which is probably the only “sex education” they are likely to get!

    • 0

      Actually that might apply to men more than women, some women seem to think everything men do around women has something to do with sex.

  • 0

    Another moron trying to sling mud at our country. Rapes happen all over the world, not only in Sri Lanka.

    Go get a lfe.

    • 0

      Another moron trying to sling mud at our country. Rapes happen all over the world, not only in Sri Lanka.
      Vis8- You are right about Leela.

  • 0

    Srilanka government try to improve tourism but the article points out how the foreigners are treated. It is a disgrace for the country. The ministry has to take some firm actions on this regard. Everywhere the women are facing violence. To stop this creating awareness among the women in villages, estates cities is essential. Temporary shelters and counseling is a must. Only then silent innocent women can come out.

  • 0

    What a great invention by Sonette Erhlers!!!! Pity the contraption doesn’t cut off the dick. Now that IS TRUE JUSTICE!! Forget about men seeking justice for women. Most men are clueless especially the the variety who grow up in a closed society of TABOOS, MISCONCEPTIONS and DOWNRIGHT IGNORANCE and INDIFFERENCE!! like these two clowns b4 me.

  • 0

    Definitely, there needs to be more action to combat these rapes. So-called “cybercafes” need to use filtering technology to prevent men from accessing obscene content. Schools need to provide certain forms of education. But at the end of the day, SL is still a liberal democracy with liberal values. We do not need “Sharia” or other forms of extreme punishment to prevent rape. Actually, if we had the Sharia, it would kill the tourism business.

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