Q: At your party convention last week parliamentarian Ven. Atureliye Ratana Thera came hard on the government’s failure to run a strong campaign to counter child abuse. The JHU is very much part of the government and does that mean part of the blame should go to the party as well?
I would have preferred if you called us a ‘constituent party’ rather than an entity that is ‘very much part of government’ because ours is an ally that joined the government to further national interests and protect the motherland from international players. Policy-wise at times we are like chalk and cheese and we have been allowed the freedom within the coalition to express our independent views, which is a plus.
On the issue of girl child we have at regular intervals conveyed the need to take tough action against the criminals and also to educate parents and elders how to protect their children from criminals. Especially in the light of the recent rise in crime rate against girls and young women we have been quite vocal about it. Though there’s a drop in other forms of crimes this is an area of grave concern for us.
Q: What is your personal take on the rise in crimes against girls?
I am a father of two daughters and I know the measures I take on a daily basis to protect my two girls. I only hope that other parents have the resources and commonsense to protect theirs as well.
Last Wednesday I took my two daughters to Kandy to watch Randoli perahera. However, even while watching the historic pageant something else was pricking my head.
This is something that had happened to the younger daughter of a friend of mine. My friend’s wife passed away when the child was small and my friend too died a couple of years ago due to an illness.
The girl I am talking about, had got involved with a young man from a family that does not deserve that kind of a warm, happy and accomplished child.
The relationship had been there for a few years. When this girl visited the man’s house the very possessive unmarried sister of his had started harassing the girl by concocting all kinds of stories about her own brother – telling this girl that her brother was a womaniser and to stay away from him. When the girl was at work or at her own home too this woman had called her regularly and terrorised her with such stories. Not stopping at that she had also told the girl that her brother has very unhygienic ways and made him look absolutely disgusting.
Further more, the woman had said that her brother was only cheating on the girl and demanded that she never visited him again. Every time the girl went to see him, the sister had come running before the brother and scared her off. You know the type!
The girl could not tell this to anybody as her own sister was dead against the relationship. No sensible person would have approved that relationship.
And every time she took up the matter with the boyfriend he had asked her to ignore the sister. It was too much for her, who was brought up with a lot of love and warmth by the father. She was very attached to her father, my friend, I remember.
She bottled up her intense fear and misery and finally this ultra-sensitive girl had a sort of a mini – break down in 2010. She got panic attacks, could not concentrate, sleep or work. Worse, a regular speaker at international fora she could not fly as she would get panic attacks on board. Mind you this girl had been a super achiever, college top, holds a top executive position and is a very kind, warm person. The whole world loved her except of course this family.
When the girl fell sick the boyfriend got an aide of his to take her to a physician who then referred her to a psychiatrist. Luckily the psychiatrist saw through the whole saga, took the poor girl under her wing, and today she is much better but is still under medication.
Q: You are a Cabinet minister and a father. What action have you taken against the criminals – I mean that woman who terrorized the girl and made her sick, after all the victim could have been anybody’s daughter?
I told my friend’s daughter that I am going to take legal action against the criminal family. However she is pleading with me not to do anything against them saying she still loves him so much and that after her father’s death he has become her guardian and she would not live if anybody does anything to him. She would not let me say anything against him either.
Her elder sister’s family is still in a state of shock on hearing the story and the entire family circle had got disturbed how this intelligent Kandyan girl got into such a big mess without their knowledge. After all they were so very protective of her.
Q: So have you decided against taking legal action against the perpetrators as the girl is still in love with the man?
I am in a major dilemma. I wish I could get the lawyers to file a case and put that vicious family behind bars. On the other hand I am also worried about my friend’s daughter who is still madly in love with that unscrupulous man. According to the domestic aides in the man’s house the girl had been raising her hands to heaven’s and calling her father ‘Thaththa Thaththa maawa beraganna” every time she was harassed by this family, The man and family had got all her support to further the man’s career. Having made use of her generosity they had thrown her out of their Colombo 7 house twice. Mind you it’s not their house, they are on rent. To tell you frankly the man would not have been there today if not for the girl. And all my efforts to drive sense into this girl that she should keep away from this ‘devilish’ family have fallen on deaf ears.
Her sisters too are desperately trying to stop their sister but the man has brainwashed the girl so much – masquerading as her guardian angel that for the girl he remains the whole world, despite the gross crimes committed against her. It’s unbelievable the way the girl has been emotionally blackmailed by this family.
Q: This is gross…..
I know and I feel helpless for the first time in my life after years. I blame myself for not looking into this family’s welfare earlier. I was too tied up with my political work I hardly have time for anything else. But this is a responsibility that I will take very seriously. I will do my best within my parametres to save my friend’s daughter.
As responsible citizens we owe it to her and everybody, be they my daughter or somebody else’s daughter. This child grew up without a mother and lost her father too, a few years ago. Despite all her tragedies she has put up a brave face today outside world. But still it pains me as I know she hits the rock bottom of misery many times every day because of what she went through and going through due to that family. I hope a day will come soon for us to take legal action against that wicked sister.
How many such cases are there in this country, we don’t know. If this can happen to such an influential, intelligentl, affluent girl what chances are there for the others?
This shocking episode had strengthened my resolve to fight against this form of terrorism – especially against children without parents, who have no one to share their misery.
Our party’s stand against crimes against women and children at the last week’s convention is very much in tune in this resolve of mine as such crimes should not be swept under the carpet. Such criminals should be exposed and punished without delay.
And as a Buddhist I know that even if they are not tried in courts the forces in the universe or Karma will come to fore and cause their downfall very soon.