22 September, 2020

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In Response To ‘Practical Solutions To Curb The Rate Of Rape’

By Themal Ellawala

Themal Ellawala

Themal Ellawala

By now, the article ‘Practical Solutions To Curb The Rate Of Rape’ would have made its rounds. I am willing to entertain the idea that the aforementioned article was written through genuine concern for the state of women in Sri Lanka, and for this sentiment I congratulate the author. However, the saying that there are many ways to skin a cat rings hollow in this particular instance as the approach Muhammed Fazl adopts is harmful to women, reinforces the inferiority of all non-male identities, and ultimately does little to solve the issue of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Before I get into the meat of my argument, let me clarify. I identify as male and acknowledge my privilege. I have not experienced gender-based violence in its myriad of ways, unlike my sisters, female friends, and other women in Sri Lanka. I do not claim to be an authority on this topic. However, I believe it takes more male allies in our society to force dialogue and conversation about these topics when women are perpetually silenced or ignored. Secondly, I am not arguing only for the rights of the ‘Senoritas of Colombo’ to quote Muhammed Fazl (as grossly pejorative as that term is). While I cannot represent all the views and beliefs of those living in the peripheries, Sri Lankan society as a whole does suffer from a rather universal issue, as can be judged by the sad fate of Vithiya Sivaloganadan. Even if this was an exclusively urban issue, does not the suffering and pain of even one human being deserve our attention?

Vidya SivayoganathanI need to address the most glaring contradiction in Muhammed Fazl’s argument before I proceed with the rest of my musings. Fazl seems to believe that rape stems from depravities of the oversexed mind, and that the solution to this issue is segregation and restrictions imposed upon women. Rape is never exclusively a sexual act. It is motivated by the need to control and dominate (refer to a sampling of research if you do not believe me: here, here, here, and here). One study of serial rapists found that over one-third experienced sexual dysfunction and all rapists reported overall low levels of sexual pleasure. It is important to understand that power assertion plays a dominant role in sexual violence, and is inherently bolstered by misogyny that sets women up as weaker, dependent, and subservient. Policing female behavior stems from this same mindset that women are inferior, weaker, and need to be protected from the dominant males. Try as he might, Muhammed Fazl’s beliefs will not ‘protect’ women, but reinforce the culture that leads to their suffering.

The rest of his arguments seek to support this viewpoint, and these are what I will turn my attention to. He insists that perpetrators are a minority of the depraved, and the solution to this issue lies in focusing on this handful. And yet, not all serial offenders are intractable forces of nature that are destined to rape and plunder. Research shows that the environment they live in serves to reinforce or inhibit their instincts, and having friends who (even tacitly) support dominating women can predict the extent of a serial rapists actions. It is when society turns a blind eye to catcalling, prefers male children, and bandies words like pussy casually that the minority of offenders are emboldened to assault. As opposed to solely targeting individuals through a punitive approach, we must seek to educate all of society about the true nature of violence.

Muhammed Fazl claims that the highest incidents of rape are recorded in developed nations. I wonder if he has paused to consider the number of reasons that may confound this conclusion. Developed nations have codified a broader category of behaviors under the term sexual assault than the average Sri Lankan would consider, and there exists relatively more support to report the incidents, both of which contribute to higher incident rates. It is facile to believe that what is unreported or ignored does not exist or hurt. Likewise, his solution that women wear less revealing attire falls short of being effective in any way. In Egypt, 55 women are raped every day while the Middle East region scores abysmally low in the few studies that exist on rape incidence, despite the modest dress that women don. Despite calling for more research to be conducted on the relationship between modest attire and rape incidence, he is quick to propose more modest bathing attire as a part of his hefty 20-point plan! Mr. Fazl cites the Christian Monitor in claiming that Saudi Arabia has the lowest crime rates in the world, but enough high profile cases have demonstrated to the world as well as Saudi citizens how survivors of rape suffer by reporting crimes. If this double punishment does not deter reporting, then what will? To add insult to injury, Mr. Fazl claims that the sole motivation behind wearing ‘bits and pieces of clothing’ (in his own choice words) is to attract the opposite sex. The nauseating degree of heteronormativity in that statement aside, we must move past the myth that women’s brains work solely on the principle of attracting a man. Let us stop putting ourselves at the center of the universe. Is it so implausible that women could care about their appearance for themselves and prefer to dress in a particular way? And even if their intent was to attract someone, that should not make them vulnerable to unwanted attention. If the roles were reversed and men walked about in scanty dress (oh wait, they do!) would they be in any danger? Why do we expect men to act like depraved monsters while women are held to be the paragons of virtue? As a man, I am sad by the low expectations for my sex. We should strive for a society in which women are free to dress, seek attention, and consent as freely as men do, and men respect these choices.

I agree with Mr. Fazl that society does need to take up unveiled, uncensored conversations about rape. Bravo! However, sex education is an important part of that. The concept may not jive with our traditional culture, and I urge Sri Lanka to seek a common ground on this issue, but decades of demonizing sexual activity has brought us nothing but pain.

However, my sympathies with Mr. Fazl’s argument ends there. He follows this statement by saying that women will never be equal to men due to intrinsic gender differences. Modern psychology argues otherwise, but at a fundamental level I believe our equality stems from our common humanity, and no degree of differences will erase that. To deny equality to a particular group of people is to deny their humanity, and this is the underlying issue that must be addressed. To say that men and women are unequal due to differences is to say that a child is less human than an adult and deserves fewer rights and liberties. I cannot think of any humane and just society (which is what Mr. Fazl claims to speak for) that would embrace such an idea.

Muhammed Fazl claims that his opponents have failed to grasp the nuances of sexual assault, but I reflect on the irony of this criticism. First, he has turned a complete blind eye to the fact that all genders suffer due to sexual assault, and that hyper-masculinity leads to men assaulting men as well as women. Second of all, his suggestions monitor unknown males in communities, as oppose to the fathers, uncles, family friends, and lovers who perpetrate most forms of sexual assault. The idea to have separate seating in buses reminds me of the racial segregation that took place in America, and did not bode well for the fate of African-Americans in that country.

There is much that can be said of this magnificent 20-point call to arms, but for the sake of brevity I will part with these final words. Sri Lankan society has endured centuries of misogyny, hidden by references to our Sinhala-Buddhist culture, ‘Mother Lanka’ etc. We must desist with the segregating and stifling of women and realize that a permanent solution lies in holding our men to higher standards than the marauding beasts we expect them to be. It comes from affirming the choices of all women, from those who opt to wear the hijab or the reddai hattei to those who don a miniskirt. Power and privilege are our greatest vices, and the only high road for our society is to understand that all human beings suffer equally, and should enjoy the same ability to legislate for themselves. Our duty is to educate ourselves and society to the point that such freedoms are a reality.

*Themal Ellawala is currently pursuing his higher education in Clinical Psychology and is inspired in his work by the plight of racial and sexual minorities, as well as the struggles of all stigmatized groups for recognition and rights. He can be reached at themal21@gmail.com. He apologizes for his verbosity and the somewhat juvenile email address.

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Latest comments

  • 16
    1

    Dear CT Editors,

    would you please avoid the publishing of photos of the victimes of crimes (any crimes) in any relevant articles in future. I presume you can understand the pain and sorrow (sometimes even anger) the families of these victims have to go through each time they see the photos of their beloved ones. Thank you for your consideration.

    • 2
      0

      Sanchay:

      I totally agree.

    • 3
      0

      Themal Ellawala

      Castration for Rape and Hanging for murder.

      You will see a decrease in the number of rapes and murder, and increase in the reporting of rapes.

  • 13
    2

    Excellent contribution by Themal Ellawala. Thanks!

    There is no point in trying to reason with Fazl though. Like Mao Zedong said he is a “written paper”.

    Fazl’s is not about emancipation of women in 21st century society. For Fazl this kind of heinous crimes against women is just another vehicle to justify his real cause in life. Which is a society modelled after medieval religious doctrines that he believes in. Doctrines he would love to impose on all others. Even by force if he only could.

    What we are dealing with here is a true “Religious Nutter”. Like with all religious fanatics Fazl’s hallmark of ignorance is arrogance. That will march on. Unfortunately.

    Cheers!

  • 4
    8

    An Atheistic society would rather deny the causes of rape than face up to a remedy.

    • 6
      2

      Atheistic society would see monotheistic religions that believe god is a “man” as being THE cause of rape.

    • 5
      2

      Maghribi,

      Sri Lanka is ready to face up to a remedy.

      Just make sure solutions are not based on medieval religious barbarism.

      Cheers!

  • 8
    1

    Mr. Ellawala,

    Beautifully argued and gets to the heart of the matter. [Edited out]

  • 1
    1

    Colombo Telegraph,

    As if publishing an ill-informed misogynist’s views were not bad enough, your decision to censor me speaks volumes about your “journalistic” credentials.

    I would appreciate an explanation on what grounds was my comment censored.

    @georgethebushpig – See our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 1
      2

      CT, you are asking to read the your comments policy. When pigs learn to read, that will be the day!

  • 1
    0

    Where permissiveness prevails there vices increase with suicide rate, mercy killing?

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

    Read Jeavan Thyagaraja Vs Sunday Times and other media – CT

  • 1
    1

    We have yet to descend to the level of South Africa –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_violence_in_South_Africa

    Rape is now referred to as “sexual assault” in many developed countries in which prostitution in various forms exists – even advertised in street tabloids and TV – an early morning – 5am – channel shows a woman seated/walking around/dancing in a bikini round a pole, slow music & a telephone number at the bottom of the screen.

  • 4
    1

    Right on target, Mr Ellawela! Thank you for the inciteful article. There is no point anymore in debating with Mr Fazi who wants us to believe his opinions are facts. His archaic remedies will take even SL back by at least another century, if not the dark ages. As I responded to his article, a million Rosa Parks will rise up from SL to fight such backward ideas of gender seggregation! SL needs that conversation on women’s rights urgently.

  • 8
    1

    Superb piece of writing Mr Ellawala, thanks for standing up to ill-informed misogynists.

  • 1
    0

    Looks like by now quite many have read fazl’s article and few of them commenting – mostly nosence – while of course a majority realising what needs to be the remedy.

  • 0
    0

    well said sir, but former president MR is also to be blamed for these
    rape matters as rosi senanayake pointed out.

  • 4
    10

    Themal Ellawala:

    My friend I dont know how old you are or what your Social Background is. But before I comment on your Article I like to thank you for confirming that you are a Male and you have never experienced gender-based violence in its myriad of ways, unlike my sisters, female friends, and other women in Sri Lanka.
    Are you confirming that you are bisexual and frequent Gay Clubs otherwise why would yu be subjected to sexual violence.
    Just curious and would it be by Women but your picture doesnt point in that direction.

    The Sisters that you are talking about are not Sinhalses but the vast Majority are Tamils. This debate has come to the Forefront because of what happened to “Vitya” which is a Tip of the Iceberg. ” Krishanthi epitomises the Tamil struggele and what happend to her was premediated abd carried out with preciosn by your Barbaric Brothers. What is happening in Tamil Land today is premeditated and nothing to do do wiith Male dominance but everthing to do with quenching Sexual Thirst where there is a Fertile Land with no Law and Order.

    Let me now turn to your main Article and I will give you my verdict at the end.

    1)I am willing to entertain the idea that the aforementioned article was written through genuine concern for the state of women in Sri Lanka, and for this sentiment I congratulate the author. However, the saying that there are many ways to skin a cat rings hollow in this particular instance as the approach Muhammed Fazl adopts is harmful to women, reinforces the inferiority of all non-male identities, and ultimately does little to solve the issue of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

    *** You are totally and absoultely wrong. Give Fazl some credit for at least bringing this to the forefront however flawed his argument might be. He has some valid points and he may have gone overboard in his enthusiasm. But it is a thousand time better than what the THUG uttered.

    2)I believe it takes more male allies in our society to force dialogue and conversation about these topics when women are perpetually silenced or ignored. Secondly, I am not arguing only for the rights of the ‘Senoritas of Colombo’ to quote Muhammed Fazl (as grossly pejorative as that term is). While I cannot represent all the views and beliefs of those living in the peripheries, Sri Lankan society as a whole does suffer from a rather universal issue, as can be judged by the sad fate of Vithiya Sivaloganadan. Even if this was an exclusively urban issue, does not the suffering and pain of even one human being deserve our attention,

    *** What rubbish are you talking about.The kind of rape we are talking about is confined to Tamil areas. How many Sinhalses Senioritas have been mass raped and the parents killed when they went to look for them.
    You are out of your mind when you say more male allies should start talking about it. Are you suggesting in Pubs and Clubs.
    Wake up man.

    3)Vidya SivayoganathanI need to address the most glaring contradiction in Muhammed Fazl’s argument before I proceed with the rest of my musings. Fazl seems to believe that rape stems from depravities of the oversexed mind, and that the solution to this issue is segregation and restrictions imposed upon women. Rape is never exclusively a sexual act. It is motivated by the need to control and dominate (refer to a sampling of research if you do not believe me: here, here, here, and here).

    *** Let me give you a piece of advice. You are utterly and totaly wrong about males trying to Domintae. These male dogs are only interested in putting their leg over and then go and piss on a Lamp Post and move on to the next Prey.

    4)Policing female behavior stems from this same mindset that women are inferior, weaker, and need to be protected from the dominant males. Try as he might, Muhammed Fazl’s beliefs will not ‘protect’ women, but reinforce the culture that leads to their suffering.

    *** What he means I am sure by Policing is having parental control. Women are not weaker and dont forget Srimavo was the first female Prime Minister. Belive me they are very Dominant and as a married man I experience this every day.

    5)He insists that perpetrators are a minority of the depraved, and the solution to this issue lies in focusing on this handful. And yet, not all serial offenders are intractable forces of nature that are destined to rape and plunder. Research shows that the environment they live in serves to reinforce or inhibit their instincts, and having friends who (even tacitly) support dominating women can predict the extent of a serial rapists actions.

    *** You hit the nail on the Head. It is all about there being No Law & Order and the lack of means to protect the Vulnerable and this is endemic in Tamil Areas. These perpertrators are aided and abetted by the State Authorities and this is where I agree with you and that is to Dominate the Tamils through fear.

    6) Muhammed Fazl claims that the highest incidents of rape are recorded in developed nations.

    *** He is partially right and I have sighted South Africa as an exception.

    7) If this double punishment does not deter reporting, then what will? To add insult to injury, Mr. Fazl claims that the sole motivation behind wearing ‘bits and pieces of clothing’ (in his own choice words) is to attract the opposite sex.

    *** Why do you think young girls wear see through dress and low cut dress to show their cleavage when they go to Night Clubs. Is it in your view because they cant afford to buy cloths to cover their bodies.

    8) We should strive for a society in which women are free to dress, seek attention, and consent as freely as men do, and men respect these choices.

    *** Everthing comes with a Price Tag and if you dress provocatively there is a Price to pay expecially when you are pissed. Have you head of Frontal Attraction and have you ever gone out with just your underpants.

    9) However, my sympathies with Mr. Fazl’s argument ends there. He follows this statement by saying that women will never be equal to men due to intrinsic gender differences.

    *** I have already told him that there are many Female Bouncers and he will be careful next time.

    10) Themal Ellawala is currently pursuing his higher education in Clinical Psychology and is inspired in his work by the plight of racial and sexual minorities, as well as the struggles of all stigmatized groups for recognition and rights.

    *** My advice to you is it is too early for you to Delve into this highly volatile topic and give into temptation.

    Stop playing Truant and concentrate on your studies. But by then we would have parted company.

    • 10
      3

      This is by far the most idiotic comment I have ever read in my life including Fazl’s horror show. If you have an agenda apart from discussing what the article is trying to focus on, I suggest you find your tinfoil helmet clad friends and discuss it at length while building an underground shelter for the zombie apocalypse. Moron.

      • 4
        2

        DMG Cowardice Moron:

        Like you I am wondering which comment is more Idiotic.

        Whether the one by your boss the Hambanthotta THUG when he said that the outpouring of Grief by the Tamils in the aftermath of the Rape and killing by the Agents of Armed Forces should have been ruthlessly put down. He commented that this is how the Freedom Struggle started.

        He equates the outporing of Grief to Terrorism

        His Grandson “Themal Ellawala” in the aftermath of the Rape and Killing of ” Vithya” now claims that he was never raped but goes on to suggest the following

        “However, I believe it takes more male allies in our society to force dialogue and conversation about these topics when women are perpetually silenced or ignored. Secondly, I am not arguing only for the rights of the ‘Senoritas of Colombo’ to quote Muhammed Fazl (as grossly pejorative as that term is)”

        What a wonderful suggestion.

        He is replacing the Restoration of Law & Order with a Dialogue by male allies in Pubs and Clubs.

        Work it out for yourself which is more Idiotic.
        I wait for your Verdict before I tear you apart.

      • 3
        2

        DMG Cowardice Moron:

        Fazls horror show as you put it might be an old fashioned Muslim remedy but at least it has some valid points.
        But the House of Horrors “Temple Trees ” has now been revamped after the THUG was booted out.
        You are no longer in Control of your destiny. It is being decided by outside forces.
        THUG booted out
        China Booted out and that is why they are now unable to dock at Colombo Harbour.
        Sampur occupied

        India meddling in your affairs
        USA meddling in your affairs

        You have lost your Sovereignty and Virginty.
        You have been raped but at least you have not been killed.

        I suggest you gather some of your male allies and discuss how to make the Fellow Sinkalms feel not ignored.

    • 3
      3

      You’re arguments are all over the place. The only thing I get from reading your comments is that you really want to be seen as smart. Unfortunately your comments defeats the purpose. I suggest you go back to school before you think to critique anything.

      • 0
        0

        I suggest you go back to school and learn the difference between “your” and “you’re” before you critique anyone else.

    • 0
      0

      Your worldly knowlede of the subject did not include the facts around boys being victimiszd by sexual predators.
      http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/iwp_2010_02.pdf
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-15507304
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083248/

    • 1
      1

      Someone please ask this clown to stop making baseless and useless points! Clearly, he hasn’t heard of the numerous non-Tamil women who have been brutally raped and even murdered in areas other than the Northeast. And, please stop attacking the writer by making personal allegations. You have no reason to belittle a person just because you don’t agree with them.

  • 2
    3

    Thanking you a million times for writing this.

    I’m tired of seeing fazl’s articles honestly, and won’t even bother reading his any more. He doesn’t know how to construct a decent argument and produce facts logically. To top it off, he’s a sexist misogynist and god knows what other things.

    Sad to say, there are a bunch of ill informed, heartless woman haters out there who side by fazl’s garbage ideals so it’s nice that an article based on facts and reality is published here.

  • 2
    2

    Brilliantly written! Well done!

  • 2
    1

    Thanks Themal for the Article.I agree with Nadeesha on being tired of Fasl’s articles. Calling him a chauvenist would be an understatement. His fundermentalist idea’s do not help the prejudiced views the other communities have of Muslims, which is unfortunate.
    Kali, didnt really read your comment word for word as it’s sounds like a hysterical ranting. I think Themal’s article is on rape in general and not specifically only in tamil areas. To say it doesnt happen in Sinhala areas, shows your ignorance. There are many incidents that have happened fairly recently which hasnt received the publicity this particular incident received. The fact that finally we’re are widely discussing the subject and potentially remedies is a step in the right direction (I wouldn’t include Fasl’s articles in this except it has prompted more people to comment and share thoughts on the subject as his views are demeaning, discriminatory and hurtful to women in general)

  • 1
    1

    This essay by this young man Themal reflects the Idealism of issues related to the topic under discussion rather than the Tamil-Sinhala behaviour under similar circumstances.
    How could a community that took up ARMS to seek Justice treat a YOUNG GIRL LIKE THIS?

  • 3
    2

    As a Sri Lankan female, I’m thrilled to know that there are young men out there who think like the writer. You also have a brilliant writing style so keep it up. Next time, don’t waste your time trying to reason with what some imbecile has written, rather write your own piece. Good luck!

  • 3
    3

    I have a message for these Sinkala Mushrooms who pop up every now and then and offer a Dialogue to solve an Intractabe Problem which will only be solved when we have the means at our disposal to make it safe for our Sisters and Daughters to walk the Streets Free of fear.
    The perpetrators of this Crime were aided and abetted by the occupying Army and the Police.

    If we had a Tamil Police force drawn up from the local popultaion this would never have happened.

    The Question I like to ask the Sinkala Racists is the following.

    ” How many of you sisters and Daughters are being Raped and Killed in the South.

    Put your hand on Heart and give me Names and location and by whom.

  • 2
    2

    Themal Ellawala:

    “is currently pursuing his higher education in Clinical Psychology and is inspired in his work by the plight of racial and sexual minorities, as well as the struggles of all stigmatized groups for recognition and rights”.

    *** Reading your profile it is obvious that you have goodness in your heart but that doesnt take away the fact you have allowed your immaturity and exuberance to get the better of you. I wanted to give you a shock treatment so that next time youn will be careful.

    Let me give you some advice and take it for what it is worth.

    Sexulal violence in Sri Lanka takes two forms.

    1) Isolated incidence of Rape which happens both in the North & South. It only affects the victims and their families.

    2) Mass Rape and Murder as in the case of ” Krishanthi” and now “Vithya” affects only Tamils. It affects not just the victims but also the Tamils. But the difference this was the dethroning of the King. When ” Krishanthi” was mass raped and died of exhaustion and tbe entire family was brutaly murdered it haunted me and will haunt me for the rest of my life. This was swept under the carpet and if people demonstrated it would have been ruthlessly put down and those who went out on the street would have been picked in White Vans.

    In the first example the isolated incidents are rare but cannot be completely irradicated and one has to be vigilant.

    But the second one happens through break down in Law & Order and it affects only the North and there are thousands of cases. It is all premeditaed with the connvance of the Armed force

    The Practical Solution is to make sure that we Tamils have the means to protect themselves as we cannot trust the Sinhalese Army or the Police.
    The Dialogue that you are talking about should be with the Rulers of Sri Lanka ( MS & RW) to devolve Power so that we can be responsible for our security and Nothing else would do.
    So if you are close to ruling elite have a Dialogue with them and convey my message to them.

    No doubt you want to aspire to reach the Top of your profession so next time give it some thought before you post it as other wise there will be no difference between you and the likes of DMG, Maya and Pi(y)gmalion whom cant understand the difference between isolated incidents and Mass Rape and Murder by Gangs bothe Paramilitaries and the Security Foreces.

    Wish you luck for the future.

    • 2
      2

      You want people to be aware of what going on and take a stance so that the injustices that are happening can be curbed, yes? So why on earth are you puffing and blowing so hard to put down a discussion that is meant to do just that? You are defeating your own purpose sir. By behaving like a blow hard on a public forum you have discredited yourself and therefore taken attention away from the message you want sent out. You need anger management therapy. Sort your self out please. And stop making a nuisance of your self.

      • 1
        4

        Maya you idiot;

        The World knows what is going on for the last 64 years and we are not prepared to take any lectures from any one. You lot are all the same and we are not going to get anything from you so dont PRETEND as if you have started to listen.
        Yes we are angry at what is happening to our Sisters and Daughers.
        Bloody Animals .

      • 1
        1

        So Maya

        This is what you prophesise and let us see the merits of it.

        1) You want people to be aware of what going on and take a stance so that the injustices that are happening can be curbed, yes?

        ***YES but we have been trying to alert you for the last 64 years but you have continued to Butcher us relentlessly.

        2) So why on earth are you puffing and blowing so hard to put down a discussion that is meant to do just that? You are defeating your own purpose sir.

        *** Where has that plea gone. Fallen on deaf years so what do you expect us to do. Take it lying down. NO SIR when the fire of Freedom is burning all around us.

        3) By behaving like a blow hard on a public forum you have discredited yourself and therefore taken attention away from the message you want sent out.

        *** Which public forum are you talking about and who are the listeners. 5.8 Million who are the majority voted for the THUG and have openly said that they are not prepared to listen. So your public forum has become a Gallery of Hooligans .

        4) You need anger management therapy. Sort your self out please. And stop making a nuisance of your self.

        *** This is the weiredest I have heard. While we are grieving and burying our dead you are asking us the Victims to go through an Anger Management course.

        This is what you expect in an Animal Kingdom to be served with Jungle Justice.

        WONDERFUL

  • 0
    0

    The real question here, that is not answered, is why are crimes of rape reported in the North-East, particularly against the security forces not investigated?

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