Female ex-employee reveals the rampant abuse by frustrated officials at Cricket's head office
Sexual demands, groping, touching, lude comments and verbal abuse of helpless and silent female employees are common occurrences inside the glamourous offices of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) according to the official testimony of a former female Executive officer of the country’s most internationally recognized corporate body.
In a startling revelation made during a formal disciplinary hearing, SLC’s former Confidential Secretary in the Marketing Division, Gayathri Wickramasinghe has exposed the dirty underbelly of the creature that in Sri Lanka governs what is supposedly the “gentlemen’s game”.
“During the tenure of my service with SLC, I have faced harassments including sexual harassment and perversion by, certain personnel of SLC. I have been offered with club memberships in order to call for evening drinks and certain individuals have related about their extra marital affairs during the official working hours with me” revealed Wickramasinghe in her statement at a recent inquiry against her.
“Even I have faced sexual harassment physically. In fact, I reported one incident in 2012, to then CEO Mr. Ajith Jayasekara and he has taken the matter up with the then President Mr, Upali Dharmadasa who sorted out the issue,” she added.
“The individuals I have mentioned here are certain employees of SLC and certain Ex-co members of the SLC. I do not want to divulge the names of them but I would do when the necessity arises. Being an unmarried lady, I did not want to complain and tarnish my image, myself due to the reason of manipulation and finally publishing all bogus stories against the innocent parties,” she said.
“However bogus stories about me have been published in tabloids and newspapers. Later on “Ceylon Today” dated 17th September 2014 published an apology. I was the only female involved in organizing tournaments. During the time I was working with tour organizing I have faced sexual harassments and perversion from certain support staff individuals as well” said Wickramasinghe.
She went on to drop a bombshell when she claimed that the termination of her employment at SLC was mainly due to her refusal to co-operate with the sexual demands of some perverted officials.
“Having stated all these harassments during the past, I feel the allegations which are stated in my charge sheet are meaningless, baseless, lack of coherence and (levelled) to take revenge from me for not obeying them” she stated.
Subsequently, websites published stories about Wickramasinghe’s allegations, though without solid proof and she felt it obviously was the work of frustrated SLC officials hell-bent on destroying her for not acceding to their perverse sexual demands. It bore all the hallmarks of their usual modus operandi.
Then on September 7, SLC’s COO Jerome Jayaratne quoted these web stories and a newspaper article and asked her for a “detailed report” of the alleged harassment she faced as they were “serious allegations”.
However, she did not respond as she had more than enough reason to lose confidence of SLC and its officialdom and felt it was another attempt to ridicule her more through web-site mudslinging.
Wickramasinghe, though many may not know her by name, rose to prominence in Sri Lanka as much as SLC’s international cricketers in recent years largely thanks to the no-holds barred, un-governed and un-monitored world of cyber journalism which today is a free-for-all and seen by many as a monster beyond control.
Stories made up, according to Wickramasinghe, by frustrated SLC officials often spread like wild fire on gossip media though they had no shred of evidence and sometimes forced SLC to conduct investigations, only to find they held no water.
A weird story of spending a night with a cricketer during a Test match was one such story. A shocking allegation of altering a receipt for a false claim was another example. There are several such examples that made her famous or infamous in the cricket circles.
Wickramasinghe by nature is outgoing, confident and straightforward. She is talented and was good at her job, exactly the things despised by uneducated and incompetent officials and their henchmen who roamed the offices of SLC. So they resorted to alleged sexual harassment and spreading gossip to get the better of her. Finally, they got rid of her but through flimsy charges, most of which were rejected by her immediate supervisor.
Interestingly, among the charges for her sacking are none to say that she was incompetent. Among the charges levelled by SLC are brushing her hair, applying make-up and painting her nails in the office, talking too loudly on the phone and getting late to come to office though she had covered those hours by staying well behind the closing hours to cover the work assigned to her.
In fact, Wickramasinghe had worked for an extra 39 hours and two minutes more than her stipulated working hours during the period SLC had investigated according to information transpired at the inquiry. Her superior officer confirmed at the inquiry that she had come to office late as she was assigned to collect cheques from SLC sponsors on her way to office.
So frustrated by the sudden sacking even without a letter of warning, Wickramasinghe was forced to come up with the harassment she had silently endured at the hand of some officials. She said she feared reprisals from officials if she revealed them at the time she was working but felt the suffering was meaningless, when she heard of the ridiculous charges trumped-up to get rid of her.
She told “Daily Mirror” that current SLC officials suspected her of links with their rival parties and have gone to extremes to find a reason to get rid of her.
In his evidence, Wickramasinghe’s superior Vajira Dassanayake, the then head of Marketing at SLC gave a clear picture on how things developed. Recalling a SLC meeting on May 30, Dassanayake said “He (SLC President) told the staff present that he is aware of information leaking out due to the conduct of some staff members. He further told that he would take appropriate action to remove such obstacles and he is aware of the proper legal mechanism to achieve such an action”.
Wickramasinghe, describing the said meeting in her statement stated; “The President SLC accused the personnel who were present there for leaking confidential information to the media. He further stated that he had further identified the people through his sources who support the opposed parties to SLC. Also the President stated in a threatening tone that he will be taking action against the employees from tomorrow as he has identified them as obstacles for his future plans. He further stated that he very well knew the law and he knows how to tackle the situation”.
Recalling what happened the following day Dassanayake added: “CEO called me to his office and reluctantly handed over a letter of suspension for a period of three months. After half an hour I got to know that the accused officer (Wickramasinghe) has also been given a similar suspension order.”
(By Channaka de Silva)