27 May, 2018

Blog

Women Candidates Under Attack

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Patriarchy at its Best

The assault on 20 Dec. on Manjula Pathmanathan, intending ITAK Puthukudiyiruppu candidate, shows men feeling threatened by the women’s quota. Fissures have emerged in the ITAK that has, by and large, held up high standards in election campaigning with hardly a complaint against it. To ITAK’s credit, complaints on the incident have been initiated by two of its own MPs and supporters.

Likewise, on 4 Jan. at Selvaa Nagar, a woman candidate of Karuna Amman’s Tamil People’s Liberation Tigers had her house broken up, reports Batticaloa News.

ITAK Infighting

The TNA was made up of four parties, but now three after Mr. Suresh Premachandran took his EPRLF out. It was decided that the ITAK would be assigned 60% of the seats and PLOTE and TELO, the two remaining TNA partners, 20% each. The controversy arose over Visvamadu and Bharathipuram being assigned to PLOTE whereas Brathipuram was ITAK domain.

Inter-party Fissures

Manjula Pathmanathan is a woman and, worse, of hill-country origin. She moved North during the 1977 disturbances. Manjula herself says she is not of the hill-country but her Tamil suggests otherwise. This is significant in that it is rare for an upcountry woman to get nominated in the North. This is a major improvement for the ITAK. She was nominated by PLOTE to stand in Bharathipuram. ITAK’s Dr. S. Sivamohan, MP, allegedly opposed her nomination while PLOTE leader Siddharthan insisted on Manjula.

The TNA’s other Mullaitivu District MP Shanthi Sriskantharasa, despite being a long-standing ITAK person, backed Manjula on grounds of gender and service. A former Director in the Ministry of Policy Planning from Mallavi, Shanthi had been identified by ITAK as leadership material for her resilient social work even after her leg was blown off in Matalan in 2008 where she was witness to the horrendous murders and the rows of corpses in hospital. She recalls using her only bed-sheet to cover a body attracting hundreds of flies.

Indicating the status of women among Tamils, instead of asking Shanthi to stand as MP, ITAK asked Mr. Sriskantharasa whether she may. A liberally educated, 1982 Peradeniya B.Com. graduate who had been quite active in Tamil music and debating societies there, he readily agreed. As MP, Shanthi was able to increase her work for those in need.  Being who she is, Shanthi stood firmly by Manjula’s nomination.

Manjula Pathmanathan’s Description

Manjula and three daughter live with her mother. Pathmanathan is in the Middle East. They worship at “the sabai” (free church) to which 70% of Bharathipuram belongs. On 20 Dec. she went by trishaw to meet Sivamohan at his father’s house to discuss signing her nomination papers. Her way was blocked by her neighbour Jeyatheepan (also a Christian) assisted by three of his friends. Jeyatheepan lives across her house and, she says, is unemployed and financially supported by Sivamohan. As Sivamohan’s car came out with him and his two police guards, Jeyatheepan slapped Manjula and pushed her. Her face hit the iron bar of the trishaw at her eye causing swelling. Sivamohan and his guards simply watched.

Jeyatheepan and friends took Manula to Jeyatheepan’s home, gagged her mouth, taped it, blind-folded her, tied her hands behind her and to the window, and held her there from noon to 5:00 pm. As it gets dark early, she went to the police the next morning and made an entry. Jeyatheepan was arrested.  That evening some 20 of Jeyatheepan’s friends surrounded her house, demanded that she withdraw her plaint and promised to ensure her daughters’ safety. When the threat of setting them alight with tyres was mentioned, she fainted so they took her to the Puthukudiyiruppu hospital, getting her to sign a letter withdrawing her complaint. From there she was transferred to Mancholai Hospital. That night, her daughters and mother were alone. Her relatives kept away out of fear. On Majula’s letter, the police released Jeyatheepan.

In the meantime complaints came from MPs, and Saroja Sivachandran (Centre for Women and Development) passing on what her members told her. The police responded that the complaint was withdrawn, even though Manjula had made subsequent statements to the police that that withdrawal was under threat. She had told this to the Commission team from Mulaitivu too.

Other views

I visited Bharathipuram and Mallavi on 13.01.2018 to show some solidarity and to sense whether the police aimed at closing the matter to escape responsibility.

Jeyatheepan seemed a pleasant chap. He agreed that Manjula had carried and fed him when he was an infant. He accused Manjula of having been an LTTE agent who pointed out recruits to help her own husband avoid conscription. He denied her story; claiming that she could have escaped because his house, as he showed me, has no lock on the door and that she could have shouted for help.  Both had already been satisfactorily answered by Manula – she was tied up and gagged. Ahilan who was rejected for the PR list by Sivamohan played a recording where Jeyatheepan practically agrees that all this happened.

Dr. Sivamohan

Dr. Sivamohan, once a JMO, denies Manjula’s story. Why were there were no abrasions on her wrist if she was tied up? How did the police release Manjula without verifying her letter’s authenticity? He says Manjula told him she was not interested in being a candidate and disrupted his finalizing ITAK nomination papers; that this is why ITAK supporters chased her way. He can bring these 20+ men as witnesses. He says MP Sriskantharasa encouraged this drama. In a key give-away he says Manjula might have hit her head but no injury resulted because the hospital discharged her.

Although Sivamohan had denied guilt, I listened to secretly taped conversations where he asks Manjula to declare that he had nothing to do with the incident. Worse, when she asked him why his policemen did not help her when she was attacked, he replies that their job is to protect only him – thereby admitting to the attack in his presence. With me too, he insisted that they are not there to protect others.

I am convinced of Manjula’s overall veracity, and that the police just want to close the file. Shanthi Sriskantharajah testifies that women candidates are now afraid to campaign, and when they do, their husbands, afraid for their safety, refuse to let them go out. This needs urgent addressing.  “Justice!” she demands. ITAK leaders Mavai Senathirajah and R. Sampanthan have promised disciplinary action, but a month after the incident nothing has happened.

Muslim Reaction to Women Candidates

Attacks on Muslim women candidates, are even more virulent but bear similarities The SLMC, and NFGG have put forward many Muslim women. Their rival Muslim party, however, has avoided putting up Muslim women on the main ward list. In Puttalam particularly, their candidates are Tamil or Sinhalese!

Shreen Abdul Saroor, a founder of Women’s Action Network, working with the Election Commission and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, has been training women to be the best candidates they can be. The Commission received Shreen’s complaint that on 17.01.2018 around 8:15 pm police raided the house in Puttalam’s “Karaba Safamarwa B” of SLMC woman candidate, Cader Ibrahim Rinoosa.

Based on a 119 phone call that Rinoosa had weapons, four policemen stormed into her house in violation of the sound practice of always having a policewoman and ransacked it. I visited Rinoosha at her home on the 18th working through Bishiya Bhutto (the SLMC’s Woman Congress District Coordinator). When questioned why, they threatened to lock them up.  After initially refusing to record a complaint, it was only close to midnight that the Puttalam Police took it down after it was mentioned that they were in touch with the Election Commission. The Chairman of the Puttalam Urban Council, Abdul Baiz, was very worried that attacks are being escalated.

Moulavi Niyas Siddeeq Siraj of Thihari is originally from Ottamavaddi Batticaloa. He belongs to Sri Lanka Thowheeth Jamath. In his video message, he openly flouts election laws relating to women:

Today Muslim women in covered heads are contesting and showing their faces in posters to other men. Islam has no room for women to enter politics. These women are shaming the community and their husbands. They are sinners and an insult to Islam.  Having their poster up on walls and Whatsapp –  It is disgusting! Husbands, what are you doing? The whole world is looking at their posters. Chee! You have no shame? In Islam it is said any society that is administered by women will never do well.” 

This video has gone viral in social media to the extent that many Muslim women candidates fear getting out to campaign. Some due to family and social pressure have stopped their social media campaign and removed their posters from Facebook etc.

The same Moulavi had attacked on video, Muslim women’s rights activists and victims when they went to Parliament for a hearing before the Constitutional Reform Sub-committee on Fundamental Rights on reforming the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act. That itself, if the police had been alert, would have landed him in jail. This man is airing his hate-speeches from a media house called TMC.

Puttalam complaints said messages were blared on loudspeakers from the Nahavilu Mosque against women contesting. Our investigators could not find any evidence. Now a video has emerged from Puttalam made by Moulavi Abbas Murshidh, publicly spewing venom on women contesting.

Spiralling Lawlessness

Our laws are quite clear. Will they be enforced? Will culprits be punished? Will women get justice?

Our laxity has led to the Tamil Congress’ chief Jaffna candidate, V. Manivannan (who was involved in the political meeting at the Maviddapuram Temple that I exposed last week), making a threatening speech in Jaffna saying

We wish to tell [Ratnajeevan Hoole] one thing at this time. Until 10 Feb. 2018 you do your attacks. On 11 Jan. attacks on you will begin. You be ready to face them. We are saying this pleasingly with responsibility. If you pull us into dirty work, we too will not let you be.”

Then Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s media unit published this speech. It means they are so sure of impunity – the scourge of Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    I consider this a brave piece; Hoole being a member of the Independet Elections for Commission I was pleasantly surprised, but wondered whether he had gone too far in passing these comments on.

    I’m too tired to complete this today. Shall get back to it tomorrow.

    • 6
      2

      Is it not the Commission’s job to ensure free and fair elections? This job I think includes the safety of women candidates and their right to contest.

    • 7
      3

      Sinhala Man,

      You wondered “whether Hoole had gone too far in passing these comments championing women.

      Perhaps he has his personal rationale/need to overcompensate for his past sins from his confessed views on women: Hindu women dancing at temples; Katubedda Sinhala village women, who Hoole claimed, seduced in irresistible awe the “innocent, intellectual, cultured Tamil boys” in the most despicable ways!

      Guess whose ways and thoughts were truly despicable!

      • 3
        5

        This is classic Sivasegaram — to anonymously quote words not in my book.

        • 9
          3

          Ratnajeevan,

          This is not Sivasegaram! You can get that confirmed by CT if you like. Stop hiding behind convenient but lame and baseless excuses and accusations.

          In fact, if you are honest, you go one step further and ask CT to repeat what you wrote, say about Katubedda women (“not just girls, but even married women”, as you put it) in these columns just early last year. If you like, I can repeat them, but I am certain you will bold facedly deny it. Even CT has shown shamed reluctance couple of times to reprint those remarks when I tried to cite in my responses what you wrote about those poor women folk of Katubedda.

          • 1
            0

            Wow, you must be taking Prof. Hoole’s notes even now and all indexed too!
            .
            What a devotee!

            • 3
              1

              Kumari,

              Hmm… surely you are not suggesting that the despicable thoughts Jeevan felt compelled to pen just last year in these columns about the bathing beauties of Katubedda should be quickly forgotten by the readers. Wouldn’t that be the dream of Jeevan so that he could deny expressing those despicable thoughts as quickly as he did now?!

              Also consider that Jeevan had distinctly remembered all the great details for over four to five decades but now, within a year, he seems to have total amnesia abouit writing them.

          • 4
            1

            Kumar
            The man is desperately obsessed. Have mercy. Ignore him.

          • 0
            5

            CT will not know. There are many ways to hide who you are. Ask CT

            You argued at Peradeniya, in fact you advised students that they should not read computer science because it is something they should pick up at Road-side Tutories and that at the e-faculty they must pick up more serious things.

            With that level of knowledge of computers and web pages that you picked up at road-side tutories ….. readers can complete the sentence.

            • 3
              0

              Jeevan,

              Can you really not find any legitimate defense for your loathsome vulgarity? The only defense you can find is to hide behind a bogus finger-pointing as a convenient distraction?

              You have gone through several attempts at this same, lame, span-cloth of an excuse blaming Prof. Segaram of a personal grudge, and you have been corrected by number of readers on that count many a time. One responder in fact pointed out that I (Kumar R) have contributed to these columns in the last seven or more years whereas Prof. Segaram is a relatively newcomer, appearing here in just the last couple of years.

              CT requires our email information when we submit comments, and so, I am guessing there is some way they can find to differentiate the submissions from different origins, without necessarily compromising anonymity. Perhaps even using the pattern of time-at-submission to assess some personal patterns in submission. Or, some other, in this age of one-government hacking even the most secure of information in other states! You must truly be kidding if you think CT cannot, if they want to.

              How ridiculous is that a Senior researched would come to such an idiotic conclusion asserting my identity despite lacking even the minimal of evidence, except that Prof. Segaram and I use proper English! Hope your other, especially the professional, research efforts are not similarly short-changed!

              Anyhow, the point is, you have no excuse for your behavior – either defend it, or if you regret that as some unfortunate utterings, then be brave, be cultured, by civilized, and be a GROWN_UP and apologize, especially to all the Katubedda women (“the girls and even married women”). Failing that, it is only fair that someone keeps your arrogant indignity in your trail.

              If you want to get out of a hole, first step is to stop digging further!

              • 3
                0

                Jeevan,

                Incidentally, you also owe an apology to Prof. Sivasegaram.

                Up to you to establish how sincere you are, how brave you are, have cultured you are, and how GROWN-UP you are!

  • 4
    0

    The correct title should be Tamils and Muslims men threatened by their women candidates. Sinhalese have produced several female rulers over the millennia. From kuveni , to Dona Catharine in the Portuguese era and on to the world’s first women pm sirimavo rattwatte.

  • 2
    0

    ” They worship at the sabai ( free church ) to which 70 percent of Bharathipuram belongs”

    Churches have gained a lot by war whereas Hindus and Buddhists have lost heavily. Proselytism is at its peak in each and every village in North and East !! Hallelujah !!

    • 5
      0

      Maya,

      The intermittent-spark of Pt. Pedro, Dr. Sarvan can prove with his famed excel tables that there has been absolutely no Proselytism in either the North or the East! He will be happy to reassure you of that, and will then go in to hiding rather quickly. Strange for an established researcher!!

  • 2
    0

    Bharathipurm: Look very much Sri lankan. Wow, Everybody blames buddhist monks. Even CT is silent about muslim (- Gender discrimination) saying women is ridiculing their religion. Why Allah created only men and not women. Generally CT is vry sympathetic about the society if a buddhist monks talks. Anyway, Tamils consider women to be lower than men.

  • 1
    0

    Maya

    If both Hinduism and Buddhism are relevant, strong enough and give ordinary people what they need then why Hindus and Buddhists worry about needy people being proselytized?

    Hindus and Buddhists must go to these needy people and learn as to why they chose en mass conversion. Desperate people do desperate things.

    • 2
      0

      Money, food, education. The proselytisers seek out the poor, the hungry and the ignorant. Very few educated people convert. Vultures seek out the weakest in society under the pretext of ‘caring for the whole person’. Actually all they care about is converting them.

      • 1
        0

        The proselytisers take the opportunity to use hunger, poverty,ignorance,disease and superstitious brain washing about hell and heaven to opiate and dull the and lull their victims to convert.
        The Catholic Church,Christian missionaries, born again Evangelicals and Mullas who all believe what is said in books as absolute truth stand ahead in the task of conversions.

      • 1
        0

        Taraki

        “Very few educated people convert.”

        Though you sound like educated how come you have converted to Sinhala/Buddhist fascism from Buddhism? So have many others. Let me make it clear, education has nothing to do with wisdom.

        “Money, food, education. The proselytisers seek out the poor, the hungry and the ignorant. “

        Why hasn’t the state which is supposed to protect Buddhism done anything to feed the hungry,……………..? What is the point of having chapter II enshrined in the constitution while Buddhist have increasingly been converted to other religion?

        ” Vultures seek out the weakest in society under the pretext of ‘caring for the whole person’. Actually all they care about is converting them.”

        When the Sinhala/Buddhist perverted power is being built around a few many down trodden people are being sidelined, ignored, punished, neglected, and blamed for asking “more” from the people who can give though with ulterior motive. Why don’t you do the same to retain their faith?

        Vulture of course doesn’t fail to feed its vulnerable chicks.
        Again as tradition dictates you chose to blame the victim.

  • 1
    0

    Readers cannot keep up with all these names and photographs.
    The misogynistic trend is found all over SL.
    .
    Karuna Amman comeback in EP? Who smashed up the home of one of his candidates?

  • 1
    0

    Unless the women candidates are taught to ‘ entice the men’ opposing men of course they will find it difficult to do propaganda.

  • 0
    1

    Taraki

    “Money, food, education” — You forget the hope of salvation (renewal of created newness of man) already paid for for each person just as he is, on the cross with no anger but total love.

    “Money, food, education” – is also being given by all the religions here. Jaffna temples, A Budhist government, Mosques.

    Salvation and a heavenly peace after the bloody carnage is given only by one, every single day for 2000 years.

  • 0
    0

    Kumar.R or anyone else interested

    Hoole’s book “exiled returned ” is available in Noolaham website. Search under classification ” authors ” , named Ratnajeevan. S

    • 2
      0

      Maya,

      Having read enough of his posts here, mostly nauseating, I do not have any interest whatsoever in seeking out any literature by a person with such pathetic need for head-line hunting, masquerading as championing the interests of the common man!

      His singular focus on a convenient finger pointing rather than providing any legitimate defense on his positions reflect the caliber of this esteemed researcher. That, and the lack of self respect and humility that would have made even a much lesser learned person to apologize for their folly, unintended or otherwise.

      I can only hope your attempt at peddling this is not commission related – surely, you are above that!

  • 1
    4

    Prof. Hoole has the guts to speak up on these important matters.
    Thank you,sir.

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