By Colombo Telegraph –
Issuing a statement the Women and Media Collective says the organisation strongly urges these institutions as well as others to recognize that violence against women and children is not acceptable under any circumstances. Prevention of violence against women and children is a social responsibility. We call on the government to take all necessary steps to guarantee that the rule of law is upheld, that Sri Lanka’s obligations at national and international levels on the rights of women and children are adhered to, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Below we produce the statement in full;
Over the last few months, there has been a spate of media reports on incidents of violence against women and children. Police spokesperson, Mr. Ajith Rohana has stated that over the past 6 months over 900 such incidents have been reported of which at least 700 incidents are related to sexual abuse of girls. These include gang rape and sale of young girls for sexual abuse.
Some of the incidents that have been highlighted in the media are:
- The rape and murder of women in Kahawatta (2011/12).
- The abuse of a Russian woman in Tangalla by the Tangalla Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman and 5 others. (December 2011).
- The abduction and rape of a 13 year old girl by the son of a wealthy businessman in Anuradhapura. (January 2012)
- The rape of a 14 year old girl by the Chairperson of the Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha and one of his relatives. (March 2012).
- The rape of a 13 year old girl by a member of the Tangalla Municipal Council along with 5 other persons. (June 2012)
- The rape of another 14 year old girl by the Chairperson of the Akuressa Pradeshiya Sabha over a period of two days at a guest house owned by him. (June 2012)
- The rape and murder of a 6 year old girl by a male relative and two of his friends in Wellawatte. (June 2012)
There have also been regular reports in the media of sexual abuse of school children by teachers, principals as well as some religious leaders and, by family members and relatives. These violations are reported to have been committed by those who hold responsibility for protecting young children.
The increase of reports of such incidents in the media points to a general degeneration of social norms and principles on the one hand, and highlights the gravity of non- functioning of safeguards to ensure the safety of women and children in this country.
Some of the factors that may be contributing to this situation are the increase in the numbers of the suspended sentences given to perpetrators of violence against women and, the overly long periods of time taken to hear and conclude such cases. In addition, reports indicate that persons accused of such crimes are repeatedly able to obtain bail, thereby giving rise to concerns about granting of bail for such crimes
in the first instance.
Police Spokesperson, Mr. Ajith Rohana is reported to have said ‘We cannot blame anybody but the parents who are responsible for the children’ (Sunday Leader, July 8,
2012). He is further reported to have stated that ‘both the parents go to work leaving the child alone in the house making them vulnerable to outsiders or in other cases the parents migrate overseas leaving the child at the mercy of fathers, stepfathers and uncles who take advantage’.
This appears to be a serious charge that only parents are to blame for such incidents. We ask, does this imply then that perpetrators of these horrendous crimes are absolved of any ‘blame’? Or, does this mean that parents should refrain from going out of the house to be to earn an income for the family? For example, short term overseas employment migration is most often an economic decision taken by parents, and is facilitated and supported by the state for the high and important remittances of these workers. Statements such as the ones above suggests that the state should then necessarily officially declare a lack of confidence and trust in close male relatives of the children left behind/left alone.
We ask, surely, the responsibility to ensure the safety of children and women does not lie only in the hands of parents? Surely, in a civilized society, the responsibility lies categorically on all members of a society, but especially on those who are appointed and tasked with ensuring protection and security. Should we not acknowledge that there are many men who fulfill their familial obligations and are not abusers of their children and women?
It is a matter of shame that a society and culture which upholds the concept ‘mother is the Buddha in the home’ is in fact a society in which perpetrators of heinous
crimes against women and children can live with little fear of the law.
Sri Lanka is a signatory to many in international Conventions and Treatise amongst which are the International Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families. We have in place a Women’s Charter, an Act for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Penal Code provisions against rape and incest. We urge that the government acts without delay to make meaning of these obligations and commitments in relation to the rights of women and children. We urge state institutions such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Child Development, the Ministry of Justice, the Child Protection Authority and the Department of Police to act immediately to stop this wave of violence against women and children.
The Women and Media Collective strongly urges these institutions as well as others to recognize that violence against women and children is not acceptable under any circumstances. Prevention of violence against women and children is a social responsibility. We call on the government to take all necessary steps to guarantee that the rule of law is upheld, that Sri Lanka’s obligations at national and international levels on the rights of women and children are adhered to, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
The Women and Media Collective
HeartlessSriLanka / July 17, 2012
Over 700 children were raped/abused in the first six months of 2012 ??
The child rape is so common in Sri Lanka that it barely makes the news. This is a terrifying development .. Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka become a moral desert where people are indifferent to the sufferings of the raped children.
Ainsley Abeywickreme / July 17, 2012
Sri lanka what has happened to you?
Why our beautiful island is so lawless ??
Why our innocent children are raped and child rapists are not punished ??
Chandra Goonewardene / July 17, 2012
I find it strange that only few other media outlets in Sri Lanka are brave enough to expose horrific child rape increase. Callous silence only encourages the child rapists.
Dayan Kurukulasuriya / July 17, 2012
Child Rapists should be castrated !!!!
Tilak Gunewardene / July 17, 2012
If you do this… then… there will be lot of politicians without penis in Srilanka :)
Native Vedda / July 21, 2012
Tilak Gunewardene says:
“If you do this… then… there will be lot of politicians without penis in Srilanka”
All men irrespective of their races will be left without their balls.
No politician has the balls to implement a policy such as “Child Rapists should be castrated” as suggested by Dayan.
Shramantha Weeratunge / July 17, 2012
Yes, if castration will be lawful.. not just many politicians will be without penises in Sri Lanka but some rich guys in Tangalle and Sri Lanka Army soldiers too. Sri Lanka Army soldier raped 6 year old child near her home in the Kotawehera area. This soldier had molested another girl in 2010 and there was also a pending case against him at another court. So, why this child rapist is still in the Army ??
Or in another child rape case, a 15 year old girl on her way to school was “dragged…off the cycle she was peddling and raped” by a Sri Lanka soldier attached to the Welikanda camp (Ceylon Today – 9.7.2012)
Ja / July 17, 2012
Child Rapists, who enjoy protection from the Rajapaksa Government not just go unpunished but many families of the savagely raped children live in fear and afraid to go home because Child Rapists threatening them and police offers not protection.
Kapila / July 18, 2012
BRAVEO! TIME TO WALK THE TALK !
Finally the NGO grand dames of the international HR industry have woken up and are focusing on real issues and have even bothered to issue a much needed and welcome statement! But issuing statements is not enough. Women and girls need to get on the streets, shake a leg and protest on the streets and in violence affected neighbour hoods. These women and media collective have been awfully silent as women journalists have been attacked and violence against women has become entrenched in post-war Sri Lanka in an unprecedented fashion – one of the Rajapaske regime’s numerous “achievements” in promoting violence and destroying institutions.
There is need to have PREVENTIVE education and advocacy campaigns by women’s groups and the STATE media, rather than introducing death penalties after the violence has happened. The highly militarized mindset of the Rajapakse regime is counterproductive to real human security which should focus on education and prevention of violence rather than the military which violates the law in the first instance to punish perpetrators. In other words, particularly in a post-war context, preventive rather than punitive policies measures are necessary but these are subtleties that the crude Rajapakse brothers do not understand.
Dinuk / July 18, 2012
Hey good points here – time for the Colombo women’s NGOS to get real and walk the talk! Colombo women’s NGOs have forgotten that their primary task is to help educated Lanka women and fight for women’s rights. Rather, they have been self-censoring, keeping silent and a low profile, while enjoying the good life on donor money and free rides to Geneva – which is OK if there is nothing else to do!
But the fact is that there is a lot to do on the GROUND in Lanka today! So please, stop milking the international aid industry get off the international conference circus, and walk the talk! Get up and out of your AC officers in Colombo join the striking University Dons ON THE STREET and start a campaign to end violence against women in the north and south.
Rohana Jayakody / July 17, 2012
There is an old proverb that fish is starting to rot from the head. Sri Lanka is rotting from the head too. Last Christmas, a British tourist was brutally killed; his Russian girlfriend was beaten to pulp and raped by Sri Lanka Government official, Chairman of the Tangalle Pradesheeya Sabhathe and his cronies. Witness said that total 8 men raped the profusely bleeding Russian tourist while she was unconscious and lying in pool of blood.
Last week another member of the Tangalle Pradesheeya Sabha (together with several of his associates) abducted a 14 year old girl, holding her in an inn named ‘Namal Rest’ and gang-raping her. The Child Rapist [Edited out] Liyanage, is not only a UPFA member of the Tangalle PS but he is believed to be the media secretary to Minister [Edited out]. The efforts by the Women’s and Children’s section of the police to arrest the suspects did not succeed because they enjoyed political protection from the Rajapaksa Government . It was after the people of Tangalle protested publicly that the suspects surrendered to the police.
Native Vedda / July 22, 2012
Rohana Jayakody says:
“It was after the people of Tangalle protested publicly that the suspects surrendered to the police.”
Inaction by the Police (for reasons known only to them) may lead to people themselves taking the law into their hands.
The danger is lynching may become norm of the land as a means of retribution.
Panda / July 17, 2012
This is an extremely sad state of affairs. These horrendous attacks on women and children are unacceptable and totally alarming. Women should not live in fear for themselves, and their children. What kind of monsters live in this country, and most importantly, why are the leaders entrusted to protect the Sri Lankan people, NOT doing anything about it? Crime against women and children have increased to alarming levels, and it is disgusting that government officials are also involved in some of these incidents.
Perhaps if the leaders of this country take time off from fleecing this country, and focus instead in bringing some law and order, things may take a different turn. Shame on them.
American Lanka Lover / July 17, 2012
While I rarely agree with the strident anti GOSL tone here, the perception that those connected to GOSL can rape and murder with impunity is very disturbing indeed. I call on GOSL to create an independent panel of legal experts to review prosecutions in cases where the accused are politically powerful (or family members of the powerful).
The Tangalla incident last Christmas, in particular, has had a chilling effect on foreign tourism. ONLY be ensuring that all guilty parties are promptly tried (and hopefully executed after conviction) can the damage to the country’s reputation be vitiated. 99% of foreigners could not care less how GOSL treats the Tamil minority, but if it is perceived that the police are lax in protecting foreign touristsb from crime, the recent rebound in arrival numbers will be ancient history and SL’s tourism industry will be as vibrant as during the heart of the war.
A public hanging on Galle Face Green, televised nationally, of the entire gang would be a good start to restoring confidence that GOSL will not tolerate violence against foreign tourists regardless of the perpetrators.
Pandukabaya de Silva / July 18, 2012
Yes, yes but where is the statement on Gota’s harangue against a woman jounalist?
The editors are silent, these womens’ organsations are silent – so is this is all because thy dislike Frederica so much? Thats a good indictment on how personalised our public positions are.
Red / August 26, 2012
Theses violence can be reduced or stop completely within short period of time for sure, if you implement capital punishment immediately.
Harith de Mel / September 25, 2012
Great to see so many strong opinions.. Here’s a chance for all of you to walk the Talk. SHOW YOU CARE-SHOWDOWN happens end October..Join us there and make a statement of people, endorse the policy and legal reform we are asking for.. be aware of the issue the recourse etc!! search for SHOW YOU CARE or SRI LANKA UNITES on FB and get in touc with us