5 August, 2021

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The Gang Rape Near Colombo, Peoples’ Sovereignty And The Absence Of Protest

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

A 45 year-old woman was gang raped in the early hours of January 23 in Nugegoda (some reports give her age as 47). This gruesome incident only received a few lines in some of the newspapers and in the media. Yet a similar incident that occurred in New Delhi, India, when a medical student was gang raped on a bus, provoked a nation-wide protest for several days and, in fact, the protests continue internationally even up to now. This protest caused the Indian Prime Minister to intervene and take action, not only to ensure medical treatment and justice for the young girl but also to take steps towards bringing in speedy legislation to prevent the re-occurrence of similar incidents. Protests took place also in Nepal when a similar case came to the notice of the public. There too, heavy demands have been made of the government, not only to bring legislation but also to achieve other reforms needed to protect women.

The media and the active participation of the people and women’s movements, including local politicians, both in India and Nepal reflected the active participation of the people to ensure protection and to express outrage at the malfunctioning of the law enforcement agencies which are duty bound to protect the public.

In both countries, the media responded to these protests and ensured that the unfortunate event came to be an occasion for the whole nation to introspect and to discuss the crisis of the law enforcement agencies and the failure of the government to ensure that these agencies act with the required diligence in future. On the one hand, the role of the media represented the problems of the conscience of the public. On the other hand, the media also created a discussion among the people in order to express concern as well as to critically discuss the deficiencies of the government that make it possible for such crimes to occur.

According to the short reports that appeared in the Sri Lankan media, the police reported that the woman who became the victim of the gang rape had gone to the market and having lost her way, made some inquiries as to directions from a three-wheeler driver. Under the pretext of offering help, the driver took her into the three-wheeler and then, against her will, took her near a well and threatened her. Thereafter, several persons who came in another three-wheeler, gang raped her. She is said to be taking treatment at the Kalubowila Hospital. The items discovered from the three-wheelers include some condoms which, according to observers, suggest that the attackers may have been engaged in such activities on a regular basis.

New approach to scandal management under peoples’ sovereignty

In recent times when such scandals occurred, the police filed reports of arrest and this appeased the public by creating the impression that the law was being enforced. However, shortly after arrest, these matters were forgotten. Through all kinds of negotiations and bribery exchanges, or by the intervention of politicians, the process of justice was subverted. The cases of the murder of several persons, together with a government politician, Baratha Lakhsman Premachandra and the recent murder of an elected local government official in Kelaniya are public events which demonstrate this quite strikingly. The murder of a British national and the rape and assault of his Russian companion at Tangalle, allegedly by the Urban Council Chairman of Tangalle and others, was also hushed up. The gang rape of a child by several local area politicians in another rural locality in the South underwent a similar fate. Similarly there were allegations of rape against government member of parliament, Duminda Silva which too, came to nothing. In fact, the list of crimes that have been followed by no real consequences is quite long.

It will not be surprising, if one of these days, the rape victim of this present incident and her family are called to Temple Trees and given some money from the President’s Fund. Such examples of so-called mercy have been evidenced many times, when such scandals happen. After neglecting Rizana Nafeek’s case resulting in her beheading in Saudi Arabia, her mother was called to the palace and some money was given.

Lawlessness and public apathy

In Sri Lanka while there is a public acknowledgement of the existence of widespread lawlessness involving particularly shocking offenses against women, the public itself reacts to these events apathetically. There is no energetic pursuit of justice or demands for accountability from the government.

Such apathy that prevails amongst the public regarding heinous crimes as well as the criminal negligence on the part of the government to resolve the problems of the law enforcement agencies is indicative of the deeper malaise in the Sri Lankan society and the Sri Lankan system of justice.

The collapse of the policing system has been acknowledged. This was the direct result of the politicisation process which in turn is a product of the total control of the state by the executive president which has paralysed the bureaucratic apparatus in Sri Lanka. Naturally, it is not within the capacity of the Sri Lankan president to enquire into all crimes and to deal with them. The task of controlling crime could only take place through the functioning of the law enforcement agencies within the framework of the law. The duty of the president and the government is to ensure that these agencies function and deliver the necessary services to the public. However, the nature of the Sri Lankan system at present is such that the president and the government do not have a reliable bureaucratic apparatus through which law enforcement as well as other aspects of the running of governance can be effected.

The result is crimes that re-occur and the gimmicks that are played by politicians to create the impression of law enforcement while there is no real attempt to ensure protection to the people. This situation has resulted in the creation of a sense of apathy in the society as a whole, even in the face of gruesome crimes such as the gang rape of this woman.

As an independent media is suppressed, there is apathy, widespread cynicism and shameless manipulation of news in the state media which is the only media that is allowed to function without hindrance.

While the rest of the south Asian countries are rising to demand better performance from their governments and the creation of efficiently functioning law enforcement agencies to protect all citizens with particular emphasis on the more vulnerable groups such as women, in Sri Lanka crimes continue to take place with impunity.

Related posts;

Delhi Rape: Actions As Reactions

How Much Is Too Much?

India Debates Naming New Law After Gang-Rape Victim

Video: Indian Women Vandalise Mumbai Bar Over ‘Rapist’ Cocktail

India Gang-Rape Victim Cremated As UN Chief Calls For Action To Protect Women

Arundhati Roy Speaks Out Against Indian Rape Culture

Disturbing Images Of war Crimes: Rape And Killings

Escalating Violence Against Women And Girl Children: An Open Letter To President

Exclusive – Warning Disturbing Images: Issapriya’s Naked Body With Tied And Untied Hands

Sri Lanka Can’t Deny: Colombo Telegraph Revelation Turns Sri Lanka’s War Crime In To A New Chapter

Concern In Sri Lanka Over Rising Number Of Child Rapes

Women’s’ Rights Group On Sri Lanka’s 700 Sexual Abuse Of Girls

Pahalagama Somarathana Sentencing Remarks: Penetration Of The Vagina Of A 9-Year-Old In The Presence Of The Buddha

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Where is that lady who picket to support Indian rape victim? Koongahe…..

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    Our SriLankans are selfish cowards follow up anything for financial benefits.

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    We are a nation desensitized to human suffering. I grew up with the ’71 insurrection through during my adulthood with the 83 pogrom and ’89 insurrection and thereafter the war of “liberation”. I am not shocked anymore!

    Our ability to be respond to shocked depends I guess on frequency and gruesomeness of the crime. We have seen enough not to be overly bothered.

    Therein lies the malaise. Without a police force which is both proactive and swift offenders will thrive hoping law enforcement

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    Sorry some parts went missing in my previous post

    We are a nation desensitized to human suffering. I grew up with the ’71 insurrection, through my adulthood with the 83 pogrom, and ’89 insurrection and thereafter the war of “liberation”. I am not shocked anymore!

    Our sensitivity and ability to respond to shock depends I guess on frequency and gruesomeness of the crime. We have seen enough not to be overly bothered.

    Therein lies the malaise. Without a police force which is both proactive and swift offenders will thrive hoping law enforcement will not catch up with them.
    Nabil

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    Lawlessness and criminals thrive in this country. The fact that murderers get away in the high ranks of our government, seem to encourage others to resort to horrible crimes. There is an appearance of trying to get justice, but dangerous criminals are arrested, and one telephone call finds them released, and walking the streets again. No justice in Sri Lanka. We have to live in fear and expect worse.

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    there is a debate going on in the US about the 2nd amendment, and the right to carry arms. I watch with interest the passion and intensity with which Americans participate in healthy debate over the need for gun control.

    Contrast this with Sri Lanka. Apathy is endemic and perhaps is a cultural trait of Islanders? How does one fire up a nation to act so that she can protect her citizens from the barbarians at the door. Phew!

    M Y Foote

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      This is why it could be said that a Spring cannot rise here and the
      Regime is aware of this, and takes advantage in its wayward march.

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    There are so many women’s associations in Sri Lanka. They will only rise up only if a Colombo 7 woman is raped.

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    Rapes are happening in many countries as these are not considered a serious crime. Amongst the male crowd and even school going kids, talk of sex and perversion is quite common. These are the normal talk. Even our educated gentry indulge in crude jokes and sexist remarks. Porn is freely available.

    Rapes will reduce only if harsh penalties are imposed which are once again condemned by our ‘énlightened’ society. The punishments must be imposed on all irrespective of politics and standing.

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      Castration perhaps?

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    Lawlessness & Criminals thrive in every country in the world and within human rights organisations as well.

    What is this Fernando brow beating?
    After a call was received to 119 Sri Lanka Police however much corrupt and lethargic were able to apprehend (02) suspects.

    Why don’t Basil fernando go to Sri Lanka and hold a placard in protest instead criticising GOSL at every turn because he is paid to sit in air condition comfort and with perks & a lucrative salary to criticise eack and everything about Sri Lanka.

    Author is seeking cheap popularity.

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    Police should function under the Ministry of Justice (and not under the Defence Ministry),as was the case since independence.
    Only then,can the police function independently.
    There should be a separate body of non-political persons eg.retired judges, to inquire into excesses,delays of prosecution,non recording of evidence/complaints,’disappearances’ of witnesse,flawed crime scene investigations with deliberate neglect of evidence etc., alleged against the police.
    This is the norm in other democracies.
    Rape is the ultimate insult to women,and should be pursued with determination,by law enforcement.
    This will happen only if law enforcement functions independently of military supervision and/or interfearence,under separate political supervision.
    Military now impose extra judicial imprisonment – “rehabilitation” – on citizens for offences which should be prosecuted by police in courts of law.This does NOT happen in other democracies.
    This strengthens the perception of a “militarised state”.

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    I am raping the country. But no problem from my rice eating arrack drinking buffalo citizens.

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    Why the First Lady is quiet? Is she not a woman, or if not Not a woman with feelings for the human rights of women in SLK? I expected her to make representation to the First Gentleman ……! A summary punishment similar to that is being dished out to their political adversaries should be the order in the present day “law and order” of the country, me think!

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      Activism has been lost a long time ago in that corner. After getting beaten to a pulp a few times, rape starts looking like a walk in the park.

      “First Gentleman” ha, ha, ha…. that’s a good one. Ain’t it great when you can be funny without even knowing it.

  • 0
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    Where are Leela and Sumanasekera?no comments? Vote for thugs, pabawathies actresses with out grey matter and give them power, this is the out come

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    Agree with nabil partly. There are other factors too.The concept of KARMA as professed in Theravada Buddhism though differs from what the Buddha taught is a contributary factor laying the guilt at the door step of the victim and not the offender.Mostly Children and women are constantly bombarded with BANA of various types.Being born as a woman is due to one’s past KARMA, so why should any one protest over crimes against women. Until and unless women’s organisations, mothers,lady teachers come to the fore and change the socialisation process of bringing up the girl child differently from the boy child there will not be a hum against what is happening to women.

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    Not too long ago Basil Fernando made some predictions for the aftermath of the exit of the former CJ. Have they materialised, or is it early times yet? Now his subject has moved to rape, perhaps rather prematurely…

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    Lasantha pethiyagoda……. Rape he does best as he rakes in a tidy sum from the Danish Foreign Office annually.

    His crystal ball is a bit murky these days.

    • 0
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      dicky Bird says:

      “His crystal ball is a bit murky these days.”

      He is using his crystal ball to see if you were a member of the gang.

      He may be able to prevent your mother, aunt, sister, daughter, grand mother …… are being raped.

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