18 May, 2021

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AHRC Writes To Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit On Dignity Of Women Prisoners

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

Archbishop’s House,

Borella, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka

December 22, 2020

Dear Cardinal Ranjith,

On behalf of the Asian Human Rights Commission, I write to make a request for you to make a special gift to the women prisoners in Sri Lanka, which would be a continuing gesture of goodwill towards those needy women, beginning with Christmas 2020.

First of all, we take this opportunity to wish your Eminence, the Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka and all Catholics, a very happy and blessed Christmas. Christmas this year is being celebrated in a grim atmosphere due to the circumstances of COVID-19. The world over, normal religious ceremonies and celebrations have been modified to meet the demands of the moment and the consideration of the health of all concerned.

Cardinal Malcom Ranjith

Notwithstanding, Christmas is still a season of goodwill and of generosity. This Christmas the message of love and generosity remains more relevant than ever. Despite adverse circumstances, this message should be kept alive as it is so essential for everyone.

The particular reason we are writing this letter to you arises from an issue documented in the prison study by the

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, HRCSL. It made a comprehensive study of the conditions of the prisons in Sri Lanka. An executive summary of this report has been published and is now available to the public. For your easy reference, we give below the link to that report. We draw your kind attention especially to Section 18 of this report, starting on page 26, which is about the condition of women prisoners in the prison. Though the women population in prisons is relatively small, they do suffer some serious problems: one as related below.

We draw your particular attention to the following paragraph in this report:

“Female prisoners also complained about the lack of access to sanitary napkins, as these are not distributed by the prison unless a donation is made to the prison by an external organization. Remanded women rely on their family members to supply them with sanitary napkins through family visits. Convicted women and foreign nationals obtain them by completing the following household tasks. It could be washing dishes and clothes for other inmates who have adequate supplies in return for sanitary napkins and toiletries.”

You are well aware that the dignity of these women requires that this basic need for preserving their sanitary living conditions is essential for their daily lives. It is an indispensable part of the Christian faith that the sacredness and respect for life and the dignity of the person must be preserved at all times under all circumstances. The present conditions relating to this particular matter is disparaging. It belittles not only women in prison, but women in general in Sri Lanka and the country as a whole.

We propose a continuing gesture of goodwill with positive significance. It would encompass the concern that is paid to the concept of female human dignity and the sacredness of

life. To intervene at this stage and offer a necessary gift to the women prisoners would fulfil an on-going personal need they all have. Our proposal is for you to arrange to provide a sufficient supply of sanitary napkins to women prisoners. The total number of women prisoners is below 600. Through our consultations we have learned two things: first-the actual cost involved is quite minimal; second, even if provisions are made on a yearly basis, it will continuously provide the women prisoners a definite intimate item that they need to use on a regular basis.

We, therefore, request your kind intervention. Please make this special gesture of goodwill and enable Christmas 2020 to be celebrated by showing these women we truly care for one another in matters large and small. We presume that if you do make this generous gift, it will be a gesture that will be replicated by Catholics and others in the future. By making this gift, it would be one means of reaching out to and visiting those women in prison.

We recall the words of Jesus: “was in prison and you visited me.” It is also, perhaps, a reminder of the sense of duty that we owe and need to show to prisoners in general, particularly those who are in most difficult circumstances. It would be of great value for all Catholics to study this report through a committee of persons. And perhaps they could work out a way to continuously engage in being concerned about and taking steps for the welfare of female prisoners. Catholic priests, nuns and laypersons would benefit a great deal if this spirit of concern for the neglected prisoners becomes a part of their mindsets. This means that the basic message of compassion, as contained in the teachings of Jesus, will be ever in their minds. Such a spirit will also influence other religions. It is very likely that some of the very disheartening circumstances that prevail in the prisons may gradually be overcome and improvements made. A spirit of cooperation could be developed to support this ideal from within the community.

With best wishes of the Christmas season from all in the Asian Human Rights Commission,

Jack Clancey

Chairperson

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Latest comments

  • 17
    1

    I am truly mystified as to why the AHRC is writing to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit, requesting him to supply sanitary napkins to women prisoners. The right man for this job is Ali Sabry as he is the Minister of Justice. Being a married man he is also likely to be more knowledgeable about these absorbent pads.

    • 4
      3

      I totally agree . Why involve the Cardinal when it is the responsibility of the govt. . How about the Mahanayaka’s and the other religious dignitaries.

    • 0
      1

      Don’t bring our Cardinal for the purpose of the political arena. The United States of America already withdraw from UNHRO (United Nation Human Rights Organization)

  • 4
    0

    Why the head of the Anglican church is ignored?
    Then there are several other Christian denominations too.
    .
    Who is supplying satnitory pads to women prisoners in other Asian countries, notably Philippines , predominantly Catholic?
    .
    Is this an yearly occurrence or a monthly occurrence?

    Soma

  • 15
    2

    The plight of women prisoners in Sri Lanka are indeed very pathetic. I think the AHRC, in its earnestness to bring some relief to these suffering women, is targeting the hypocrisy in our society that is responsible for this sad situation. And who better demonstrates this hypocrisy than the Holy Malcolm Ranjith. He is beholden to the Rajapaksas for some this-worldly favours he has received from them. In return he has been spewing hate speech against Muslims and Tamils and inflaming racist violence in the country. He has behaved more or less like a cross-dressing rogue Buddhist monk. People in the know were amused by his premature and preposterous statements pointing fingers soon after the Easter Day bombings. Who was he trying to cover up? Worst of all, he made highly ridiculous xenophobic and self-righteous statements regarding human rights. He said on so many occasions that the western countries and their human rights agencies need not teach Sri Lanka about human rights. Because, according to him, human rights have been flourishing in Sri Lanka from time immemorial as it is a Buddhist country. So let him now provide sanitary napkins to women prisoners.

  • 7
    0

    If Cardinal is so interested in the health issues why didn’t he come out and speak in support of Sajith Premadasa when he came out and indicated that he would give sanitary napkins free to women and children? At that time the Cardinal was batting for SLPP and Rajapakses who were making jokes against Sajith on this topic. This included even women politicians such as Pavithra Wanniarachchi and Geetha Kumarasinghe, who may not be using the pads but using diapers.

  • 5
    0

    The Cardinal is now promoting nonsense gleaned from social media about Covid being set adrift by pharmaceutical companies so they can reap profit from vaccines. This laughable idiocy is no different from Dhammika Paniya that is being promoted by the government. With his latest declaration, the Cardinal has joined the crowds of misguided or designing individuals who seek publicity or gain from the Covid pandemic. What a world we live in!

  • 4
    0

    Ranjith himself is a human rights abuser / violater who outright lied and denied any such abuse in Lanka. He is a political prisoner bidding for his masters. Requesting him to safeguard the dignity of women prisoners tantamount to pleading those higherups who abused in the first place.

  • 6
    0

    Sonali, you are right . I just found the statement released by this joker requesting our clueless government to find the Covid source. Our govt is struggling to find the infected which crossed 40 thousand mark and this fool wants to know the primary source. Mean time constitutional council made up of Buddhist clergies met president and congraluated his good work giving an A ++ grade. In Lanka politicians are running religion and vice versa where clergies and cardinal are doing politics. I am sure cardinal will be first in line to receive the vaccine when available.

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