Tamil women who survived Sri Lanka’s civil war now face widespread sexual exploitation by officals in their own community as well as from the army, the head of an ethnic reconciliation body said Wednesday.
Former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, the chairwoman of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, said women who were widowed during the 37-year conflict were among the victims of abuse by officials who frequently demand sexual favours just to carry out routine paperwork.
“There is a lot of sexual abuse still going on by officials, even Tamil officials and even at lower levels, the grama sevakas (village officials),” she told Sri Lanka’s Foreign Correspondents’ Association.
“Even to sign a document, they abuse the women and of course some people in the (armed) forces” continue to commit sexual abuse, she said.
Kumaratunga, who lost an eye in a Tamil Tiger suicide bombing when she was president at the height of the conflict, said the best way to make women less vulnerable was to improve their livelihoods.
“We feel that when women have livelihoods, they will be empowered… they feel safer and they don’t have to be exploited,” she said.
Kumaratunga said many women had been traumatised as a result of the sexual abuse and needed psychological support but the authorities lacked qualified experts to treat them.
“We cannot bring counsellors from abroad because they won’t know the language,” she said.
Many women, particularly widows, have struggled in the war’s aftermath to obtain identity papers and birth certificates which are essential to obtain government handouts and other aid.
Prosecutions of military personnel or officials for sex crimes are rare in Sri Lanka, although four soldiers were jailed for 25 years for the gang-rape of a young Tamil mother in 2010, a year after the war ended.
At least 100,000 Sri Lankans lost their lives during the conflict that saw horrific abuses by both sides. (AFP)
Thanos Thursday, 16 February 2017 09:10
So what has the mighty yahapalanya done to alleviate suffering of the Tamil population? No war-crimes probe, No constitutional reform, almost nothing done.
Reply : 21 21
Nandani Thursday, 16 February 2017 09:18
She speaks so confidently as if she held the candle
Reply : 29 37
Lal Thursday, 16 February 2017 11:40
I am happy CBK is doing something useful than the other ex-president but she could have done these in her time
Reply : 25 28
Haramanis Thursday, 16 February 2017 17:56
As usual blaming the Forces as well - madam you should enter an asylum
Reply : 11 17
TMA Friday, 17 February 2017 03:10
She clearly says some people. You won't be so sympathetic about the forces if your sister got raped by one of them
Reply : 5 12
Kumar Thursday, 16 February 2017 18:16
Can CBK get the President to arrange procequections against alleged officials and army personnel. What is TNA and its Leader MR Sampanthan doing about this. Very quite !!
Reply : 2 13
Ganesh Friday, 17 February 2017 05:01
We know there are people who hold candle in the south for their wives but here are eye witnesses proven evidences for brutal behaviours of some soldiers . We are sad media like DM publishes nasty inhumane remarks regarding a battered Tamil race which is biased eventhough after being terrified and blasted with obnoxious language by Gotapaya during the last regime.
Reply : 6 9
Ibn Yusuf Friday, 17 February 2017 12:18
Make polygamy lawful. It is better than living under the ignominy of being a mistress or prostitute with no rights. Where as a co wife will have the same privileges and rights as the first wife. All other solutions are bunkum and only wishful thinking for women to lead a dignified life
Reply : 6 3
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