Wednesday, May 13 was a dark day for the people of Jaffna and for all Sri Lankans. Sivaloganathan Vidhya, an 18-year-old student of Maththiya Maha Vithyalayam in Pungudutheevu never returned home from school only to have sacrificed her life for a group of psychopaths who brutally gang-raped her in broad daylight and left her inside a jungle - naked and dead. This is not the first time that Sri Lankans have come across an incident of rape and murder but things have prevailed ever since the good old times. In the wake of the incident, just two weeks after things are getting back to normal but not so normal. Many independent organizations got together to stage a protest against this brutal incident to ensure that this is the last of its kind.
Many dignified personalities such as politicians, artistes, representatives from women’s groups and university students were present at the event and many of them shared their views with the Daily Mirror:-
We were silent back then because we were not victims : Anoja Weerasinghe
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, veteran actress and women’s rights activist Anoja Weerasinghe said that it is high time that violence against women is given an absolute standstill. “We have heard of cases in Nooriwatte and Kahawatte, but we were all silent. Why, because these incidents didn’t happen to us or to our loved ones. As a woman, mother and daughter, I feel ashamed to hear these. So we have independently made our contributions to this protest to humbly request from those responsible, to serve justice to Vidhya and all other victims of rape.
Today politicians have the power to do anything and stay behind closed doors. So they introduce racism. Shamila Daluwatte has taken all the pain to draft 16 demands, and we have a glimmer of hope that our President would give an ear to our voices and put an end to, not only rape, but all crimes that take place in the country.”
The Govt. should work efficiently to stop all crimes : Eran Wickramaratne
In his comments, Deputy Minister of Highways Eran Wickramaratne said that the incident that happened is quite unfortunate. “It is a good sign that people from all over the country have started to protest.
The government should be working efficiently to stop all crimes.”
I felt ashamed to sit back and watch : Shamila Daluwatte
Attorney-at-law Shamila Daluwatte said that an absolute zero tolerance should be shown in this incident. “I felt ashamed to just sit back and watch, and therefore, I asked my friends to help me organize this protest.
The support I received was immense that a volunteer of a Canadian origin even created a Facebook event page and made the event popular in social media. When I checked it in the morning, it has reached 7000 followers and this is the power of social media. I have also drafted 16 demands in the form of a petition. For example, some requests are to expedite judgements in all rape cases and sexual violence, clear the backlog of all cases of rape, incest, and grave sexual abuse by assigning separate Courts in each district as a temporary measure and legalize abortion in cases of rape.”
Politicians are involved in covering perpetrators : Rosy Senanayake
In her comments, State Minister of Child Affairs Rosy Senanayake said that it is high time that we see an end to all these violence. “There are reported cases of rape and murder which we can’t even imagine. In a survey done from 2011 to 2014, it was found that there has been a 20% increase in the incidents of child abuse. So the State has failed to criminalize the criminals. We have seen that politicians are behind many of these incidents, and in fact, even the former President while going on his Temple rounds said that he was protecting those who were charged of crimes. Due to this reason, the perpetrators can commit crimes out of fear. It is a good sign that President Maithripala Sirisena visited Jaffna to look into the needs of Vidhya’s family, and this is what good governance is all about. Today I came here to support this cause because I am a woman, a mother and a right thinking citizen of Sri Lanka.”
The perpetrators should be stoned to death : Semini Iddamalgoda
Popular actress Semini Iddamalgoda was also present to support this initiative. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, she said that she is 100% against child abuse and all sorts of violence. “I came here today because everybody is waiting until they fall in trouble to voice out their needs. In fact the thinking patterns of Sri Lankans are quite selfish. So I came here today to give them a message and say that all women are our mothers, daughters and sisters and we all have to stand up for each other. I want all women to take to the streets and protest like they had never done before until Vidhya has been served justice. This is not the first time that we came across such an incident. In 1971, we saw the Manamperi incident, even though this is a Buddhist country, I don’t mind if the perpetrators are stoned to death like in the Islamic nations, because that is what they deserve. These culprits should be given maximum punishment.”