SLFP politician Malsha Kumaranatunga slammed Derana Media Tycoon Varuni Amunugama on Thursday, after a newspaper owned by Amunugama’s media house slandered female cartoonist and artiste Shanika Somatilake.
“If you are speaking about women’s empowerment and have set up a newspaper to promote it – a good way to start is not to shame and label women for just having an opinion. Women with opinions don’t have psychological disorders. Women with body confidence are not mentally ill,” the SLFP woman politician said in a post uploaded on Facebook and Twitter.
On Wednesday 14th July, the Dharanee newspaper, a tabloid women’s weekly owned and promoted by Amunugama published unauthorised pictures of Somatilake clad in swimwear in an article that claimed those who post “half naked” pictures on social media were mentally ill. The same issue published an article claiming that those who criticized “public figures” were attention seekers suffering from personality disorders.
The attack from Amunugama’s media house came after Somatilake published a series of videos on Twitter parodying remarks made by the media mogul in a controversial interview with host Alanki that was widely condemned on the internet.
#BePositive 💁🏻♀️ pic.twitter.com/fouJjalmAH
— 🌱Shanika (@Nikshazz) June 28, 2021
Kumaranatunge noted that business leaders, especially those running media organisations with the ability to influence millions, are and should be open to the same level of accountability and scrutiny as any other public figure. “Money, wealth and connections shouldn’t make anyone of us immune from the consequences of what we say and do,” she said.
She said there were ways to address bullying if people were feeling aggrieved. “But using unauthorised images and labelling women with opinions or body confidence as having psychological disorders is not the way to redress a grievance. This is also bullying – on a much larger and more dangerous scale,” Kumaranatunge charged.
“Business leaders, especially those running media organisations with the ability to influence millions, are and should be open to the same level of accountability and scrutiny as any other public figure. Money, wealth and connections shouldn’t make anyone of us immune from the consequences of what we say and do”
The SLFP politician expressed solidarity with Shanika Somatilake, saying she had also been subject to bullying and sexual harassment.
“I understand the hurt and pain it causes. I also understand that anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment – even the most powerful and ‘magical’ woman,” Malsha’s statement said.
Alluding to Amunugama, she urged public figures to grow a thicker skin about criticism.
“As a public figure I have come to accept that I will be criticised and even ridiculed for what I do and say. As public figures, I believe that we should be open to a higher level of scrutiny than the general public. That comes with the job unfortunately. After all, our words and actions have a wider impact,” she said.
Humble / July 17, 2021
Tamil women for many decades being harassed and raped by soldiers in the NE = Silence
Lankan soldiers kicked out of the UN delegation in haiti for running prostitution rings with underage girls = Silence
Some woman makes some ‘patriarchal comments’ during an interview = Outrage!
The irony with these lankan feminists goes further when they dont dare utter a word against muslim women walking around in public wearing full burqas.
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / July 17, 2021
Criticizing shapely young beautiful women with superior intelligence as being mentally ill would be a classic sign of an inferiority complex and inflated ego about their own power to influence the people. The psychiatrist who supported the allegations should also be required to file a response to charges of breaching academic freedoms that enable academics to make statements, supported by credible evidence from the body of professionals in that field. If his observations cannot be supported with peer-reviewed evidence he must tender a public apology failing which he should be sanctioned by his employer.
Rajash / July 17, 2021
Varuni vs Shanika gate!
The most critical crisis facing Sri Lanka.
f the economy
f the pandemic
f the militarisation
f the fx crisis
Art of Distraction
Distraction Distraction Distraction
P.Rajeswaran / July 18, 2021
When there is a discussion going on regarding the Derana TV, I am reminded of a comment posted by Sarath de Alwis long time ago in these columns which I would like reproduce it for the benefit of the people who watch the media.
Quote: ” I watch the 7 o’clock news on TV channel ‘Derana’ . It is not because I want to be informed of the truth. I watch Derana channel because I want to know the truth I have to live with”.
It needs no further explanation.
Ajay / July 18, 2021
Varuni has demonstrated to the whole world what an immature and ignorant little twerp she is. Such people only become bloody arrogant and resort to cheap bullying when someone makes valid criticism of their publicly expressed views on public issues. That means she’s not fit to be in the media profession, or for that matter any profession at all. She should resign and go home right away. In a more civilized country, public outrage would have forced her to quit by now. Her interview with Alanki was a disgrace to say the least. It’s simply mind boggling a woman could hold such feudal, patriarchal and sexist views on her fellow women in this day and age. Actually she comes off as a misogynist and a fascist. She doesn’t seem to have a clue how young women of today, and millennials in general – whether rural or urban, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, local or foreign – feel about themselves, their sexuality and gender, gender relations, and social equity and justice. Actually Varuni’s utterances are threats amounting to micro-aggression towards women, making them feel unsafe in any space with a TV on Derana Channel.
Ajay / July 19, 2021
Now Shanika is a brilliant satirist with an acerbic wit, and she is fully justified in using her talents in countering Varuni’s wanton humiliation and disparaging of women on national TV. No one defamed Varuni – she did it to herself by displaying in public her ignorance, primitive mind-set, and servility to the powers that be. How does Varuni react? She stoops to the low level of threatening Shanika, publishing her pictures without her consent, and calling her mentally ill with the highly questionable backing of someone supposed to be a professional psychiatrist. Now who is the defamer, the bully, the mad person. What Varuni has done is an appalling violation of all journalistic ethics, norms of professional conduct, and even basic human decency. She should publicly apologize at least to salvage what is left of her reputation. And the psychiatrist, I think, is going to have to answer some tough questions as he’s in the UK and it’s not like working for the Rajapaksas.