Friday, May 31, 2013

Violence Against Humanity

 Text and pix by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Women's Action for Social Justice (WASJ) recently organized a panel discussion on the theme Violence Against Women is 'Violence Against Humanity,' which was held at the Public Library auditorium.

Over 10,000 signatures, which have been gathered against Violence Against Women, from 10 December 2012 to May 2013, were also handed over to the United Nations Office in Colombo.
Signatures were gathered from the general public in 15 areas in 13 districts (Anuradhapura, Badulla, Colombo, Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Matara, Matale, Moneragala and Nuwara Eliya).

Signature banner

"Rape, the most serious act of violence committed against women, has significantly increased in our country over the past two decades, despite the enactment of relevant laws. According to police and judicial statistics, there were 665 rape incidents reported in 1990, 542 in 1995, 1,397 in 2007, 1,592 in 2008, 1,624 in 2009, 1,854 in 2010 and 1,636 until 30 November 2011. In Kahawatta alone, so far, 15 women have been brutally murdered," says Padma Pushpakanthi, Convener, Women’s Action for Social Justice.

Women's rights activists demanded that justice should be delivered on time.

 Signing the Violence Against Women banner

A father in Vanni has sexually abused his three daughters, and all of them are pregnant. The community has filed a case against this particular man for sexually abusing his daughters, and he is imprisoned. All three daughters, who were forced to be pregnant by their father, want their children to be born,” says Sumathi Maragathamoorthy, a women's rights activist from Jaffna.

 “There are nearly 25,000 women from the North and East stuck at garment factories,” says Reverend Sister Noel Christine.

 Signature campaign seeks public attention and participation

Ordinary Sri Lankan women in fishing, farming and plantation communities have been victims of violence during war and post-war periods.

 “We are in a society which enjoys abusing women,” says Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, veteran film director and playwright.

Women tea pluckers are the backbone of Sri Lanka's economy, but they are marginalized, and deprived of their basic rights. They are extremely poor, most of them are still living in linehouses, and there are serious health and safety problems,” says Menaha Kandasamy, President, Ceylon Plantation Workers' Red Flag Union.

 Women's rights activists also insisted the importance of citizens to check on the authorities whether duty assigned to them is carried out properly and responsibly.

 Campaign at grass root and national levels

There is no social protection for women in Sri Lanka, says S.G. Punchihewa, human rights activist and Attorney-at-Law.

 Children at play while their mothers talk about Violence Against Women



Friday, May 24, 2013

Women's long search for loved ones

 By Dushiyanthini Kanagsabapathipillai

Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the Disappeared have taken part in repeated protests together with the remaining men folk in the family, and demanded for accountability and justice. Their tireless search continues, to find their missing sons, husbands, fathers and brothers. Most married women are confused and frustrated over whether to continue to wear the “Thaali” and “Pottu” (symbols of a Tamil married woman) or embrace widowhood. These women have been pushed to become the main breadwinners of the families, after the men folk in the family have gone missing.

Three Tamil men from the same family in Trincomalee have been missing since 2007 and 2008


Fathers of the disappeared in the North
"Where is my father?" asks Pavithran Jeevakumar from Mannar

Women of the disappeared from North and East

These photos were captured during the months of October, November and December 2012 in Colombo, Raddoluwa and Trincomalee. Displayed in the Photographs are family members of the disappeared persons who gathered to protest in front of the United Nations office in Colombo, to pay tribute to the Disappeared persons at the Monument of the Disappeared in Raddoluwa, and carry out a camphor campaign in protest against Disappearances.

 "My husband has been missing since May 2009" says Thamizhselvi Thangarasa from Puthumaaththalan

The camphor campaign was jointly organized by the Committee for Investigating Disappearances (CID), and the Movement for the Release of Political Prisoners (MRPP). Women whose fathers, brothers, husbands and sons have been Disappeared over the past years, took part in this religious protest recently in Colombo. Nearly twenty five women from Batticaloa, Colombo, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu and  Trincomalee carried burning camphor pots from Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar temple in Kochchikade to Jeyanthi Nagar Sri Sivasubramaniya Swamy Temple in Ginthupitty while barefoot.

 "I have searched everywhere, but nobody is telling the truth about my son" says Ashadevi Shanmugalingam

A camphor campaign for missing loved ones

Thousands of people have been Disappeared during the war, and even after the war was officially ended in May 2009. LLRC Recommendation 9.48 states “Direct law enforcement authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that allegations (of abductions, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and arbitrary detention) are properly investigated into and perpetrators brought to justice.” The Government’s National Plan of Action stipulates “6 months” for implementation of 9.48, but for many families of the disappeared, investigations have yet to “bring justice”.

 "What happened to my two sons, who have been missing since May 2010?", asks Noor Najeeba from Mattegoda

 "What happened to my husband who has been missing since 1999 from Mullaithivu sea?" queries Nirmala Priyasharshini Nishantha from Trincomalee

 "Our one and only brother has been missing since 2008 from Dehiwala" says Vijayalakshmi Sabesan

At the Monument of the Disappeared in Raddoluwa, Seeduwa

"My son has been missing since March 2009" says Sithy Emmena from Mattakkuli

Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations on Human Rights

Direct law enforcement authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that allegations of abductions, enforced or involuntary disappearances, and arbitrary detention are properly investigated into, and perpetrators brought to justice.

Appoint a Special Commissioner of Investigation to investigate alleged disappearances and provide material to the Attorney General to initiate criminal proceedings as appropriate. Provide the Office of the Commissioner with experienced investigators to collect and process information.

Devise a centralized system of data collection at the national level, integrating all information with regard to missing persons.

Frame domestic legislation to specifically criminalize enforced or involuntary disappearances.

The above article was originally posted on Vimarsanam-Vimansa on 30th January 2013. Link for the story

Courtesy: Vimarsanam-Vimansa ~ Reporting Reconciliation in Sri Lanka