Sunday, December 08, 2013

Winning back the night

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

1760 rape cases in 2012

Wonder of Asia: Rape in every 90 minutes

Torch and slogan at the human chain

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence began with a walk to “Winning Back the Night”. It was jointly organized by the women’s groups and activists in collaboration with Women and Media Collective. Activists and concerned citizens have walked with placards, while chanting hard hitting slogans in Sinhala, and homemade torch from Rajagiriya to Kanatte Cemetery roundabout in Borella. Activists formed a human chain around the Kanatte Cemetery Roundabout, at night to attract attention to convey and create awareness on violence against women and girls.

Lit up the night

According to Forum against Gender Based Violence, “In Sri Lanka, as well as in other parts of the world, victim-survivors of gender-based violence are largely (over 90%) women and girls. Violence against women takes many forms – physical, sexual, verbal, psychological and economic. In Sri Lanka, the most prevalent types of violence against women are domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, sexual violence, forced prostitution, incest and trafficking. These crimes are not particular to a certain region or locality, but are widespread and cut across class, race, religion, ethnicity, economic status etc. In many cases these violations are hidden, this is especially true of domestic violence and incest. Violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights, and a violation of the country’s constitution and laws. Ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty as the cost of providing services for victim-survivors of violence and abuse is quite high as well as the human cost which hinders the education, gainful employment and health of women and girls”.

Standing to attract attention in the night

It further states, “rape, sexual harassment, assault and domestic violence are the most highly reported types of violence according to the Police Bureau for the Prevention of Abuse of Women and Children, Women In Need data and hospital desk data. However, these reported cases are among the most severe, while others remain unreported. Sri Lanka has made progress on various fronts, particularly in the legal domain, in an attempt to end violence against women, for example the adoption of the Women’s Charter, the amendments to the Penal Code in 1995, Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in 2005 etc. But, given that GBV is a complex multi-causal issue that has to be tackled at multiple levels, interventions made by state and non-state actors thus far, have touched only the tip of the iceberg. This highlights the need for continued collaboration and effective networking by all organizations working in this critical area”.

Joined to show solidarity

Mirrored in Rajagiriya

Activists on motorbikes taking the lead


Lighting up the night

Holding a placard at the human chain

Walking at dusk

Chanting slogans with placards along the street

"No to sexual harassment", read a placard in Tamil

Human chain around a round about

Walking at night

Walking to have equal rights

Activism on a motorbike

Placard at protest

"Don't give bail to abusers of women and children, reads a placard


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