Sri Lanka

This book looks at how the law has responded to women who have suffered violence. Police statistics, media reports and the experiences of women activists and counsellors indicate that violence against women is a widespread phenomenon in Sri Lanka….One of the biggest problems is lack of awareness. Victims and potential victims are unaware of their rights and the remedies available. This resource book looks at the Sri Lankan legal system from a feminist perspective.

This paper discusses the situation of VAW in the region of South Asia, employing examples from all of its composite countries (including Pakistan). South Asia continues to have the worst indicators with regard to violence against women in the world. In addition to the common problems of violence against women, South Asia has particular cultural and religious practices that also accentuate the problem of VAW in the region. The general low status of women in the region and the entrenched nature of discriminatory structures have led to what is seen as a lifecycle of VAW.

This bibliography attempts to cover all areas of violence against women in the family, the community and by the state. The compilation also includes a full array of resource material from books to monographs and newspaper articles, both published and unpublished, and is broken down by country. 

The sparing of young Rizana Nafeek from beheading in Saudi Arabia, and her return home to her family in Eastern Sri Lanka, is all we need now to complement our joy at the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. It is heartening to read reports that the King of Saudi Arabia has, subsequent to world-wide appeals, including from our own President Rajapakse and reportedly Prince Charles of the UK, asked Saudi officials to hold talks with the bereaved Saudi family, whose 4 month old infant died after the 17 year old maid was asked to bottle-feed it. This tragedy took place less than three weeks after young Rizana’s arrival in Saudi.

(Translation from the Arabic original)We have the right as human beings to ask about the souls of other humans that are being wasted unjustly. And it is our right to in a State of law and order to ask about the rights of these souls. Follows to that the souls of all human beings, whether they belong to us or to other nations since we belong to the religion of justice, and since we worship a God who prohibited injustice on himself. I bring today the following facts about a death of a 4 months old infant. He lost his right to live due to the fact that those who were in entrusted to keep him safe and healthy did not carry their trust as should. Instead, they gave the responsibility to a young girl or in other words, a minor.  

     من حقنا كبشر أن نسأل عن أرواح البشر الآخرين التي تزهق بغير وجه حق، ومن حقنا في دولة قانون أن نسأل عن حقوق هذه الأرواح، ويتبع ذلك أرواح كل البشر، من ينتمي إلينا ومن ينتمي إلى غيرنا من شعوب طالما أننا ندين بدين العدالة ونتعبد لرب حرّم الظلم على نفسه. أطرح اليوم قضية طفل رضيع، فارق الحياة وهو في الشهر الرابع من عمره. خسر حقه في الحياة لأن من كانوا مكلفين بالعناية به والتأكد من أن حياته محفوظة وسلامته مكفولة وغذاءه وشرابه مؤمّنان لم يحسنوا القيام بهذه المهمة فأوكلوها إلى خادمة صغيرة في السن، أو قاصر(وفق الأوراق التي دخلت بها المملكة فإن عمرها كان 23 سنة ووفق شهادة ميلادها كان عمرها 17 سنة آنذاك)، لا يعرفون الكثير عن خلفيتها أو خبرتها أو أهليتها، وفي خلال أسبوعين من وصولها من سري لانكا (مايو 2005) كان الرضيع موكلاً إلى "ريزانا رفيق" بمفردها ومن غير إشراف، ولا ندري إن كانت دُربت خلال هذين الأسبوعين كفاية أم لا ولا بأي لغة تم ذلك، لكن النتيجة لا تنبئ بذلك، إذ إنه يبدو أن الطفل أصيب بغصة أو شرقة أو ما شابه ولم تعرف الخادمة كيف تتصرف وهي تصرخ طلباً للمساعدة وتحاول بعدم خبرتها أن تهدئ الطفل حتى وصلت الأم بعد فوات الأوان وقد قضى الرضيع بين يديها.

 (نيويورك، 26 أكتوبر/تشرين الأول 2010) - قالت هيومن رايتس ووتش اليوم إن على الملك عبد الله ووزير الداخلية الأمير نايف، أن يأمرا بوقف إعدام ريزانا نافيك، عاملة المنازل السريلانكية المحكوم عليها بالإعدام بعد إدانتها بقتل طفل كان تحت رعايتها عندما كانت تبلغ من العمر 17 عاماً. المملكة العربية السعودية هي واحدة من ثلاث دول في العالم ما زال معروف عنها إعدام أشخاص - خلال العامين الماضيين - على خلفية جرائم يُفترض أنهم ارتكبوها وهم في سن الطفولة.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) draws your attention to the appeal made in 2007 into the case of Rizana Nafeek, who went to Saudi Arabia as a maid when she was 17 years old and who was sentenced to death by a Saudi court on the allegation that she had killed an infant of her employer. However, she completely denied the charges and explained that the death occurred as an accident by suffocation while she was bottle feeding the child. As a result of intervention by human rights organisations an appeal was filed on her behalf and the death sentence was set aside.

In this Groundviews interview, the interviewer asks WLUML Council member, Chulani Kodikara, about affirmative action, and also whether for example, the entry of telegenic females sans political acumen to parliament in any way helps advocacy on stronger female representation. Pegged to this, he also questions her about substantive equality, that goes beyond, in her own words, the classical liberal notion of formal equality which assume that removing formal barriers, for example giving women the right to vote and be elected to political office, is sufficient to give women equal access to political institutions.

'Women are not just victims of war, as some aspects of their experiences are empowering and can be used as a resource for healing and transformation’. War is a gendered process. Post war is no different. It may be a cliché to say that in Sri Lanka as elsewhere in the world, the most visible and harmful impact of 30 years of war has been on women, but that is the reality. As men joined militant groups or the armed forces, were arrested, abducted, disappeared, or took flight to safer locations outside the community or the country, women were left behind to cope with fractured families and communities; multiple displacement, transition in alien spaces such as camps for the displaced; or resettlement in distant and unfamiliar regions.

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