By Barbara Seneviratne –
All through the years(Ceylon) Sri Lanka was thought of as a country that has high standards of decency, civilized and well disciplined, but since 1977 disorder, violence, corruption, injustice of power and tyranny of wealth is so widespread that in the near future it will paralyze the life in this country.
No democracy can survive with out law and order. The moral standards of our politicians, police force, army, criminals, and legal system are living examples. The cause for this state of affairs is the failure to provide moral leadership.
For sometime the media has been reporting alarming rise in the statistics of incidence of crime, rape and sexual assault against minors. The latest statistic was highlighted to be a total of 900 within these six months. Does this not sound alarming and especially when majority living in this country are Buddhists? This country where majority are Buddhists is on the path to earning a shameful reputation of becoming a nation of perverts, paedophiles and rapists.
To read the daily raping of underage girls of 16 years to 01 year by ruling Government MPs at all levels ( Local, Provincial and National) school principals and teachers, members of the forces other public officers and the clergy is sickening. Is it that these politicians, officers and clergy think that they have license to rape and kill anybody they like because of their position and power?
The usual tendency is to either soft peddle such issues stating the perpetrators were under the influence of liquor or psychologically ill. Then how is that these adults hold responsible positions? The blatant truth is that they are intoxicated by power and positions. The rulers of the country should make sure that perpetrators of such crimes are severely punished irrespective of their rank and standing in society.
Even when they are arrested the perpetrators are not dealt as the way they should. They because of their “status” are given preferential treatment or either released due to lack of witnesses. Usually in such cases witnesses do not come forward for fear of reprisals. Which is the case in most crimes taking place in the country.
This alarming rise in the rate of sexual assault and rape of minors is a major concern to the civil society and time has come to voice our concerns and fears. We have questions but what are the answers. The questions are; Why are these acts of violence rising at an alarming rate? Are we heading to be a mentally sick nation?
Is it the society that contributes to violence or the foundation of the Constitution, which have been shaken by folly of the people and the corruption of the politicians?
Some of the other factors contributing to this kind of violence are the free flowing of drugs for which the response of the government is very poor, of course for reasons of their own, sexual objectification of the female bodies by the media and widely shown porn films in ever mushrooming DVD parlors.
It is strange that women’s organizations who publicly spoke out against violations of women’s rights and their bodies are not heard since of late. There were times demonstrations were held in the Colombo Lipton circus on injustices related to women. Especially when Krishanti Kumaraswamy and her mother was gang raped and murdered in 1996 by the Sri Lankan armed forces. There was a good response from the women’s movement. Krishanti too was in her teens during her rape and murder. Many a women and children faced similar situations in the North and East during the conflict but we in the South didn’t protest vehemently as we should because we were not affected. But now the same gruesome violations are taking place in the South and victims are mainly from low income families who are powerless and are struggling to meet ends due to ever rising cost of living.
Is it because we are living in “comfort and privileged zones” and perceive such crimes will not take place to kith and kin of ours that we are so indifferent ?
The famous quote by saying goes Niemöller is perhaps best to remind in this context:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
The civil society organizations should be more active and women organizations should give the lead more aggressively to fight against all kinds of violence against women and children. A cry from all of us mothers fathers, brothers and sisters can certainly activate a lethargic government and time has come to resist and fight for justice.