Colombo Telegraph

Piumi Hansamali Misogynist Attack: Police Silent

In a social media post, popular actress and model Piyumi Hansamali has confirmed the authenticity of the video of a brutal assault on her, by a man who she identifies as an ex-partner. Prior to Hansamali’s social media post, speculations circulated that the video could be fake, or a mere publicity stunt. However, in Hansamali’s own admission on her Facebook page which has some 310,071 followers, the incident in question occurred in September 2018, in which she was physically attacked in the most brutal manner. 

Social media post published by Hansamali on 12 April 2019.

In her post, Hansamali notes that she ‘had her reasons’ to refrain from taking action soon after the attack, due to sentimental attachments to the perpetrator, and for reasons of privacy. She then describes the release of this video as a manifestation of karma against the person who attacked her. 

Although Facebook has now deleted this video, it has been widely circulated, and in some cases, it continues to circulate via other social media platforms such as WhatsApp and messaging. It can therefore clearly be established that a crime has been committed, which also amounts to a gross violation of fundamental rights. 

However, law enforcement authorities have, to date, not taken any action on this matter. 

Speaking to Colombo Telegraph, a retired police superintendent told on the condition of anonymity that in order to take action on such an offense, police does not need a formal complaint. He further noted “We have all seen what happened to Ms Hansamali. She could have been killed when the man strangled her so violently. Police should have swiftly launched an investigation and taken action against the perpetrator. During my tenure in the police force, we used to take direct action based on anonymous calls, newspaper reports and other documentation available in the public domain, when clear evidence was available that an offence had been committed. In this case, I can confirm with full certitude that a formal complaint by the victim is not mandatory to launch a police inquiry”. 

Commenting on this attack, international gender justice advocate, academic and author Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana observed that “It is extremely worrying to see that the police has not taken any action so far. Now we know 100% that this is a real incident. We know who the perpetrator is. Most importantly, this was an extremely violent attack and it should not go unpunished. If law enforcement continues to be silent it sends a very negative signal to people, that attacks of this nature do not result in any consequences against perpetrators”. 

Dr Weerawardhana further noted “The danger of such a precedent can be best observed in the many comments that have been published on social media, where people – especially men, as well as a minority of women – condone the attack and take the side of the attacker, often making extremely disrespectful and blatantly misogynist comments about Ms. Hansamali. No one has any right to make uptight and judgmental comments about a woman in this way. This avalanche of hateful comments signifies how patriarchy functions in our society, encouraging men to assume that freely using such derogatory language, publicly condoning such barbaric violence and such acts themselves are acceptable. We need to break this vicious cycle. We cannot move forward one inch as a country with so many people, including men as well as women assuming that misogynist violence of this nature is acceptable”. 

“I would strongly call upon the relevant authorities to set an absolutely essential precedent by taking the strictest possible action against the attacker,” Dr Weerawardhana further added.

The attacker has been identified as Venura Heshan.

“The importance of prompt action on this attack cannot be overstated. Law enforcement bodies have sufficient evidence to take steps to ensure justice to the victim, and in so doing send a clear signal to society that violence against women is by no means justifiable,” Dr Weerawardhana said. (By Shamila Rathnayake)

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