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Spotlight on eroding women’s status in an island

11 May 2018 12:53 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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It’s interesting to note however that those who attended mixed schools behave better in society

In the villages, property was given much higher value over women

King Kashyapa of Seegiriya is said to have had 500 wives and is likened as the 5th Century Hugh Hefner

A close look at the Sri Lankan society shows that the average Sri Lankan male is sexually frustrated

Sri Lankan culture is so deep-rooted that it has a special place for women. This is showcased during Sinhala-Buddhist weddings where much of the rituals are centred around the bride. Sri Lankans even had a ceremony called the ‘Isa Diya Mangalyaya’ during which a bride’s virginity is subject to a test. This tradition is not practised today, except in villages and by a few aristocratic families.   


But despite all these traditions, which show the lofty status given to women in the Sri Lankan society, the fairer sex are subject to much harassment in the island.   
The recent incident in Mirissa where a Dutch female tourist was harassed by a beach boy put Sri Lanka under the spotlight as a country where white women should be extra careful, if they happen to visit this island.   


A close look at the Sri Lankan society shows that the average Sri Lankan male is sexually frustrated. A German female tourist whom this writer had the opportunity to converse with not very long ago said that she was bugged by males between the ages 18-30 during her stay in Sri Lanka. She said that she was travelling to Kandy by bus and many of these males who approached her were passengers on the bus. 

It was writers like Sumithra Rahubadda, Rupa Kodithuwakku, Anula de Silva, Lelishiya Botheju, Irene Siriwardene and Dharma Samaranayake who started highlighting women’s issues in their pieces of writing

 
The Sri Lankan culture doesn’t afford much opportunities for boys to mingle with girls. Most schools make recruitments strictly based on gender. It’s interesting to note however that those who attended mixed schools behave better in society and know how to respect women. This separation of boys from the girls happens after the latter attains age. This is not the case in other European countries which are rated as ‘triple A Nations’; countries which offer a luxury life to its citizens compared to what Sri Lanka offers.   


Playboy mansion   


Tracing the footsteps of our ancestors we can observe that women were used as tools for sex. King Kashyapa of Seegiriya is said to have had 500 wives and is likened as the 5th Century Hugh Hefner. Sigiriya was his playboy mansion. 

 
In the villages, property was given much higher value over women. This is why they had the tradition called ‘Eka gey kema’. In this system two brothers share the same wife to avoid the family wealth from being divided.   

There was a recent post on Facebook which underscored the depth of a woman. It said, ‘The well-read woman is a dangerous creature


We have records of women belonging to the Rodiya clan going to sleep with rich planters. Among the Rodiya community, Polyandry was considered honourable. The British made both Polyandry and Polygamy illegal in 1859, but the practice continued nevertheless. 

 
Even the early Sinhala novels and short stories never highlighted women’s issues. It was writers like Sumithra Rahubadda, Rupa Kodithuwakku, Anula de Silva, Lelishiya Botheju, Irene Siriwardene and Dharma Samaranayake who started highlighting women’s issues in their pieces of writing. The male Sri Lankan writers before them failed to touch on this segment of the society in their work.   


In most African and Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, women take the initiative when one of the partners has to sacrifice the job for the sake of the child. This is probably because a woman also has the inbuilt characteristics of a mother whose role the male might struggle to play. The following poem by Maya Angelm and titled ‘Woman work’ confirms this.   


I’ve got the children to tend 


The clothes to mend 


The floor to mop


The food to shop


The chicken to fry 


The baby to dry

 
The role of counsellor  


The woman as a mother also plays the role of counsellor in the family. This writer recalls a story in the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest where a daughter was devastated after her boyfriend had dumped her. After seeing the daughter going without food and drink for a lengthy period, the mother one day took her lipstick and scribbled this message on the

mirror of the daughter’s dressing table: ‘When half gods go, real gods come’. The daughter bounced back to her usual cheerful mood the moment she read this.   
There was a recent post on Facebook which underscored the depth of a woman. It said, ‘The well-read woman is a dangerous creature’. The following poem by Courtney Kane and titled ‘Depth of a woman’ gives a hint as to what a woman is capable of.   


There is depth in me that is 


Much like the sea


And on the days of my greatest gleam 


I am a woman who manages 


What some say is the impossible


It’s the opinion of many that Sri Lankan males should spend more time on understanding their women. Actor Will Smith washes clothes at home not because he can’t afford a servant, but because he loves his wife. If males understand the fact that love and respect are two words that open the door to the heart of a woman this island would be a true paradise.   


The mother is the first female that a boy comes in contact with. He grows up with her till he is ready to enter wedlock. During these early years in life these males must look around at home and observe the fact that everything works like a well-oiled machine. Why? Because the mothers have given the place a feminine touch.   


History shows us that women have reached the status of being worshipped, the best examples coming from India. Many hope that the incident in Mirissa would not be repeated and hotel and restaurant owners would do all they can to ensure that female tourists are safe when they visit Sri Lanka. This is an island which doesn’t have to be reminded that its history is full of stories where women playing the roles of mothers, teachers and wives have inspired the nation. Women can be venerated as Gods and demi gods are. The following line from the poem penned by poet Aido Kraas in his work titled ‘Hymn to the woman’ underscores this. ‘You are God’s gift to the world’.     

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