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Woman behold thy place - EDITORIAL


27 August 2014 07:23 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


esterday’s arrest of a girl for slapping a man who sexually harassed and humiliated her in public at the Wariyapola main bus stand, again brings to focus vital issues relating to women’s rights and the growing sexual abuse of girls including children.

The Daily Mirror reported yesterday that the man, possibly suffering from some mental imbalance, had allegedly shown his private parts to the girl and even masturbated, continuing the vulgar conduct till the bus terminal timekeeper intervened and the girl had no option but to slap him. Why the Wariyapola Police arrested her though she was later given bail and what will happen in this case are major questions because anything is possible in this era of the politicisation of crime and the culture of impunity.

For thousands of years, male chauvinism and domination have been among the most negative, if not evil or unjust factors in society. We often use beautiful sayings like the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world but in the political decision-making process, in business, management, and even in most religions, the discrimination against women has often produced an unbalanced, insensitive and sometimes even senseless society.

Happily one of the inspiring and liberative factors of the modern technological society is the growing trend towards equality and to be gender-friendly. Sri Lanka has the proud distinction of having produced the world’s first woman Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who served effectively as the head of Government for about 12 years. Later, in the last years of her life, she was the ceremonial Prime Minister under her daughter and Executive President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who held this office for 11 years.

Despite this distinction Sri Lanka today ranks among the last 15 countries in terms of women’s representation in the national assemblies. According to a World Bank report for last year, surprisingly topping the list is Rwanda where 64 percent of the Parliament members are women. One of the factors may be the April 1994 genocide where up to one million men women and children were slaughtered in the hundred-day civil war between the Tutsis and Hutus. Yet what Rwanda’s women have achieved is creditable. Next in line are  Andorra with 50 percent, Cuba 49 percent, Sweden 44 percent, Seychelles    43.8, Senegal     43.3, Finland    42.5, Nicaragua 42.4, Ecuador 41.6 and South Africa 40.8. Sri Lanka’s percentage is 5.8 and we have the dubious honour of being the  139th of the 182 countries where the survey was done. Our neighbour India with which we have close religious and cultural links has a 11.4% women’s representation in the Lok Sabha and ranks  117th, not much better than our status.

According to a report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), globally women account for an average of about 20 percent of parliamentary seats, up from 15 percent a decade ago. The top ten countries are a mix of high and middle income economies, some with legally mandated gender quotas and some without, the IPU says. Sweden, with 44 percent of parliamentary seats held by women, is the country that achieved the highest rate without any gender quota.

With presidential and general elections likely to be held in Sri Lanka in the next two years—though now there are questions as to who could contest for the presidency from the UPFA - Sri Lanka’s women who constitute the majority of the population need to come forward and campaign vibrantly for their rights and privileges.

  Comments - 1

  • Hirantha Thursday, 28 August 2014 03:32 AM

    "Allegedly shown his private parts to the girl and even masturbated, continuing the vulgar conduct till the bus terminal '

    WHAT ? THIS IS NEWS TO ME !! I have not seen any paper mentioned any thing like this but says that the girl had been verbally abused only !! can somebody tell us the truth !

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