By Chandra Jayaratne –
Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa,
The First Lady of Sri Lanka,
Dear Madam Rajapaksa,
A Plea to Give Patronage and Leadership to the Call to End Violence against Women & Girls
I write this note to represent the voice of advocacy of several hundred women and men, both young and old, who gathered at the Lipton Circus this evening to raise a powerful call to end violence against women and girls in Sri Lanka.
The group of activists missed your leadership patronage and your voice of support to strengthen their collective call, made peacefully this evening at the aforesaid event organized by a dedicated group of women. Most of the activists carried placards with advocacy messages, drawing attention to the urgent need for a change in the culture, attitudes and commitment of all in civil society, along with significant changes in the governance structure in an collective effort to eradicate violence against women and girls in Sri Lanka.
Today as people from all around the world came together to mark V-Day, a day to rise up and call for an end to violence against women and girls, women activists of Sri Lanka too joined the V-Day 2013 to mark the culmination of “One Billion Rising Movement”, a global movement of over 200 countries to end gender and sexual based violence. The call made by the women activists was spontaneously supported by other women, girls and men too, who joined in the peaceful public demonstration and candle lit vigil that followed.
Your kind attention is drawn to the enclosed copy of the Sri Lanka activists’ call, containing lyrics adapted from Bob Dylan’s popular song, enclosed. Also enclosed is a photocopy of a print out from the Daily Mirror today, describing the “One Billion Rising 14th February 2013” call and a copy of the leaflet distributed to the public by the activists.
Independent of any collective calls and advocacy submissions of the leaders of the Sri Lanka “One Billion Rising Movement”, I take this opportunity to appeal for your patronage and supportive voice of advocacy in placing before His Excellency the President and the Government, a plea to adopt and implement the undernoted strategies towards Sri Lanka achieving the goal of significantly reducing in the decade ahead, the present high level of violence;
1. The Government and all in Society commencing from today, the 14th February 2013, to commit to take personal and collective steps to reduce the serious incident of violence against women and girls by 50% annually and other acts of violence against women and girls by 25% annually.
2. All Law Enforcement Officials, including the Police, Officials of the Attorney General’s Department, the Judiciary and others associated to commit to clear the entirety of the backlog of inquiries of complaints, institute legal action against wrong doers where acts of violence have been committed and ensure the effective disposal of cases filed in respect of reported incidents of violence against women and girls
3. Every Police Station to have a special unit, under leadership of a lady police officer, to support and facilitate protection and safety of women and girls and to record and process complaints and inquire in to reported incidents of violence (including all reported incidents of domestic violence and other acts of violence against women and girls). These special police units to be required to prominently and publicly disclose for each month and year to date, the number of serious and other acts of violence against women and girls and how many of these complaints have following due inquiry have led to legal action being taken against alleged wrong doers (comparative trends of preceding years should also be displayed).
4. Enact necessary statutory provisions to prevent the grant of bail for serious acts of violence against women and girls
5. Engage the assistance of Women’s Organizations and Other capable Civil Society groups with the support of the Law Reform Commission of Sri Lanka and Legal Draftsman’s Department to make recommendations on necessary legal reforms and support speedy review and development necessary legislative amendments and have them enacted to ensure the safety and security of women and girls and to further detract perpetrators of such violent acts due to the deterrent penal sanctions
6. Arrange to introduce special buses and train compartments for use by women and girls and reserve adequate areas of reserved seating and standing space for them in other public transport vehicles, when mixed travel is allowed
7. Review processes and systems operative in all detention centers, police stations, prisons, correction/rehabilitation centers, orphanages and welfare centers set up by the Government or Non Governmental Organizations for persons with disabilities, illnesses or needing long term care, and ensure that such operative systems and applicable supervision systems provide adequate safety and security of women and girls
8. Require the private sector to adopt rules, regulations, corporate policies and core values that minimize harassment of women and girls in employment within the private sector and ensure these business entities strictly enforce such polices to safeguard the interests of women and girls
9. Arrange state media institutions ( and encourage private media institutions) to allocate adequate time and space to promote the call to end all acts of violence against women and girls and encourage the development of a national culture of ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women
10. Arrange to establish a permanent Commission (similar to the Human Rights Commission) to promote the due empowerment of women and girls by their capability development (knowledge, skills, attitudes and values), promote their safety, security and protection against violence and harassment and significantly discourage and reduce the numbers of women and girls seeking overseas domestic and other minor employment. This public institution to be adequately funded by national budget support, which must be at a level not less than an agreed fixed percentage of the overseas remittances derived annually in the previous year from women and girls working overseas
You would no doubt appreciate a national culture built on respect for the rights, security, safety and fair/equitable treatment of women and girls, when supported by all in civil society and promoted by the Government, will set the foundation for building Sri Lanka as a nation where equality, equity social justice, law and order prevail, with compassion, loving kindness and equal treatment of all citizens will ensure peace, unity, reconciliation and amity.
The women activists leading the “One Billion Rising Movement” in Sri Lanka will be encouraged and strengthened by your patronage, leadership support and voice of advocacy in pursuit of their collective call to end violence against women and girls
14th February 2012.
cc. Secretary to HE the President
Minister of Women’s Affairs and Children
Inspector General of Police
Law Reform Commission
Chambers of Commerce