I am writing with reference to an article by Nirmala Rajasingam titled “Tamil Nationalism, Population Control and Gender Rights – A Response to Dr.Vallipuranathan” (1). Earlier I was happy to respond (2) to Dr.Krishna Kalaichelvan though he had different views because it was written in academic language in polite words with real references and scientific facts (3). But this time I am writing with disappointment because the ranting of Nirmala is written in abusive language calling others as “lunatic fringe” and without even a single reference or any scientific merit. I am however, compelled to respond to her article to dispel the misconceptions and twisting of my academic presentation created by her. It is for this reason I will neither respond to all the nuances in her response nor will question her moral right to criticize the polygamy or polyandry.
- I have already explained that the media report published in GTN website (4) and other media was prepared by a media personnel who attended to my talk in Jaffna University on 26/06/14 and not by me. My presentation contained slides on the large number of war widows and the marital squeeze caused by the difficulty in finding age appropriate male partners because of the large number of Tamil males who got killed during the war, or gone missing or migrated. Also my slides had reference to history of Tamils particularly to the golden era of Tamils during the period of Cholas 10th AD where Tamils engaged in polygamy by marrying war widows and had children to recover the population lost in war. Same practice was noted in the writings of poet Avvaiyar who is considered as the first Tamil feminist believed to have lived during the Sangam period between 3rd century BC and 4th Century AD. I then stated in my presentation that we could not resort to the historical practice of polygamy in the post war period because of the Marriage Registration Ordinance enacted in 1907 (5). It was during the ensued discussion after my talk a Tamil doctoral scholar among the audience emphasized polygamy as a solution to the special situation of post war marital squeeze and that appeared in the media report. It is therefore clear that the concern and bewilderment of Nirmala over the allegation that I pronounced to legalize polygamy was unwarranted and baseless. If Nirmala is genuinely worried about the reproductive rights of war widows and other young Tamil women facing the post war marital squeeze she should come out with feasible alternative solutions rather than destructively criticizing others who are trying to find solutions.
- I being a Tamil and a Medical Practitioner consider it is my bounden duty to protect fellow Tamils and preventing them from continuing genocide. Section (d) of Article ll of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide stated “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within an ethnic group” amounts to genocide (6). It is in this sprit I proposed ways to promote births within the Tamil ethnic group which is seriously affected by the war and the subsequent systematic developments. I never objected to miscegenation or marriage of Tamils with other races as falsely alleged by Nirmala. In reality as reported by International Crisis Group in 2011 we have observed Tamil women had been forced to prostitution, undergone trafficking within the country and provided jobs in Katunayake in the name of rehabilitation and exploited by men belong to other races (7). Nirmala in UK seems to be totally unaware of this situation talking of mixed marriages and trying hard to project a totally fake picture where Sinhalese or Muslim men are waiting to rehabilitate Tamil women or widows by marrying with honest intentions and Tamil nationalists are preventing such marriages.
- Next paragraph exposed her real intention more clearly. It is obvious that in a government clinic if a contraceptive implant is inserted without informed consent and privacy then the state is responsible for that act irrespective of whether the health professional carried out such act is Tamil or not. Nirmala trying futilely to defend the government stating that such act was carried out by Tamil officers and further posing a hypothetical question “would it not be just as easy to impose these implants on poor rural Sinhala women in Moneragala or Mahiyangana just as in Kilinochchi?” which never happened in South. While claiming herself as Tamil activist and feminist I wonder how long she can mask her hidden agendas which is now clearly exposed in this issue. If she is either a Tamil activist or an honest feminist how can she overlook the maternal death occurred after the coercive implant insertion?
- As stated already I reiterate that although part of the Youtube clip Muslim demographics was shown during my presentation neither that part of the clip nor I made any derogatory statements against Islamic brothers. It was used to establish that fertility has been the main factor in sustenance of an ethnic group and I wanted Tamils to improve their fertility in the post war scenario following the appreciated ways of Muslims. While twisting my presentation without seeing it, Nirmala deliberately questioned my honesty and posed her stupid question “Does Dr.Vallipuranathan claim that Muslims because of their ethnicity or faith are somehow more predisposed to procreate and increase their numbers dramatically over others.” With all due respect to my Islamic brothers, I state that Holy Qur’an promotes having more children and it is a haram or religiously unlawful to engage in permanent contraception and not appreciating temporary contraception (8). It is proved in several scientific studies that religious faith leads Muslims to have more children ((9) (10) and I find it wasting time to answer questions posed by Nirmala without either studying the issue in depth or supporting her views with references from others.
- When members of other races are worried about their numbers I do not find anything wrong in worrying about the numbers of Tamils in this country especially in the post war scenario with rapidly aging population. While Nirmala claiming herself as Tamil activist and feminist, has she ever honestly raised her voice for the thousands of half widows languishing in unresolved grief? Further a woman should understand that child bearing is part of her responsibility towards the community she belongs to. Nirmala seems to be still unaware of this responsibility too.
- Finally Nirmala faking herself as a feminist concluded by stating “Dr.Vallipuranathan, recognizes the indiscriminate nature of the dispensation of Jadelle but is opposed to it because he believes it is issued to Tamil women to suppress population growth amongst Tamils. He does not appear to be concerned with any of the other harms women’s rights activists are concerned about.” I have already stated “long term implants such as Jadelle that used in Kilinochchi had already raised the concern of the freedom of choice and reported to target certain groups of women and coercive use of it had been already reported even in West” with reference to a full article appeared in the British Medical Journal which addresses all the concerns of the feminists as well. It is obvious from the above Nirmala neither read my article carefully nor checked the references which I have quoted but just write without analyzing in depth to project her as a feminist and Tamil activist while hiding her real intentions.