A video that warrants the strongest possible content warning, featuring an act of extreme violence inflicted upon a popular actress, has been released on social media [Colombo Telegraph refrains from providing the link to the video, in an effort to reduce clicks and further publicity to it]. The actress, Piyumi Hansamali, is a popular public figure with a very strong social media presence. The video shows a [cis] man assaulting the actress, violently trampling her neck and chocking her. It shows Hansamali being chocked and in a situation of extreme distress. “This video is an expression of extreme violence, and content of this nature should not be allowed on public social media without prior moderation”, commented Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Colombo Telegraph.
“This kind of video violates the minimum ethics of a decent and civilised society”, commented Thiyagaraja Waradas, Senior Lecturer at the University of Colombo, currently doctoral scholar at the University of Bath.
Waradas further added “an immediate inquiry should be carried out by the Women’s Affairs Minister, and the state should take every action to ensure that every single individual involved in this shameless act, as well as its filming, projection, and social media dissemination, should be brought in front of the law, so that the victimised party can have access to due support and justice”.
Expressing outrage at this incident and the video, Senel Wanniarachchi, a gender justice activist, author and scholar at London School of Economics, commented: “Where is our collective outrage on the said video? The fact that the man in question knew he can not only act in the way he did, but also have evidence of his action posted on social media, speaks volumes about the culture of impunity surrounding violence against women and girls in Sri Lanka and the fact that Facebook allowed the said video to be posted and reproduced online shows how this level of impunity that exists offline is mirrored in the online spaces as well”.
Gender justice activist, scholar and author Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana categorically condemned the violent video, noting that: “There is a thesis propagated by some that this entire video could be a clickbait publicity stunt. This view, whether it is substantiated or not, is beside the point. The whole point here is that there is a public video, where a cisgender woman is being violently assaulted, with a man’s foot on her neck. This kind of misogynist violence should have absolutely no place whatsoever in our society. The biggest problem here is also that the men who did this assume that their behaviour is permissible. This tells us that there’s something deeply rotten about masculinities in Sri Lankan society. This kind of video is an incitement to misogynist violence”.
“Social media platforms really need to up their game in terms of content moderation. That this kind of video, just like last month’s Christchurch massacre video, made it to public social media tells us that there’s something deeply problematic about social media usage, home and abroad”, Dr Weerawardhana further added. (By Shamila Rathnayake)