Category Archives: Gender Based Violence
Click on an image to view slide show.
Meg is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She’s a journalist and a world class klutz. She blogs here. Her opinions are her own.
What’s One Billion Rising (OBR) and why should you rise?
Kamla Bhasin, world famous feminist writer and activist, who’s leading OBR in South Asia– gave us a quick interview on the worldwide campaign.
Video- filmed and edited by Megara Tegal in Nepal.
Women in Need conducted a walk the same day that led to Galle Face where OBR Sri Lanka was launched, with motivating speeches from inspirational women, street theater, song and dance.
At Galle Face for the launching of OBR Sri Lanka!
Street theatre performance about VAW
The engrossed audience
We support this and we’ll be at Galle Face for the launch of One Billion Rising in Sri Lanka.
Yes, one billion exceeds our 20 million population. And that’s what’s startling. See, the UN has discovered that 1 in 3 women become victims of gender based violence everyday. With a world population that stands at 7 billion, it equates to ONE BILLION victims each day.
One billion women and girl-children are subjected various forms of gender based violence, from catcalling to rape. So Eve Ensler, the founder of the bold plays ‘The Vagina Monologues’, decided to create a movement to raise awareness. Her plan is get one billion people– men, women and children, to protest against gender based violence leading up to 14th of February 2013.
Each country that has pledged their support of OBR has launched the campaign in their respective countries. Sri Lanka will join them on the 25th of November (this Sunday). And that’s what the flyer is about.
So join us at the launch of OBR Sri Lanka and show your support.
In Sri Lanka sexual offenders are pretty much the same as petty thieves. After all, assaulting and raping a 12 year old girl is the same as stealing mangoes from your neighbours garden– at least that’s how our judiciary see it.
In 1995, after much coercion by women’s rights lawyers and activists, a law was passed stating that anyone found guilty of committing a sexual offence will receive a minimum prison sentence of seven to ten years. Now that law acted as a deterrent. It was a strict sentence that would ensure that the more devious of men would not act on their lascivious urges for fear of being contained behind bars for several years. Progress was being made up until 2008, when a particular High Court Judge in Anuraddhapura, felt it wasn’t fair to dispense such a harsh ruling on a man who had consensual sex with a 16 year old girl. The victim and the accused had eloped, gotten married and started life together as a married couple. With consent from the Supreme Court, the judge simply ruled a ‘suspended sentence’. A suspended sentence is the blacklisting of criminals who are free from any form of punishment unless another complaint is made aganist them.
Using this verdict several criminal lawyers have helped sexual offenders escape serving a prison term. Since 2008 to 2009, it’s been found that of 129 reported cases identified by LHRD, an alarming 114 received a suspended sentence which included a paltry compensation fine and freedom to harass the victim and maybe even commit the crime over again but this time around make sure the victim doesn’t spill the beans on him.
That’s 88% of the reported cases. 88% of those who have been found guilty of sexual offences- some as harsh as violently assaulting and raping a woman, ganging raping a woman who was waiting for her bus in the middle of the night, and a man who repeatedly raped his niece and threatened to kill her if she spoke about it- all free to walk among us.
Will the ‘suspended sentencing’ of sexual offenders be lifted? Going by what the Attorney General’s Department said at a press conference organised by the Lawyers for Human Rights and Development (LHRD) on the matter- not too soon; if anytime at all.
Attorney, Kalyananda Thiranagama who is also the executive director of Lawyers for Human Rights and Development (LHRW) stated that court proceedings must speed up. One of the reason’s a suspended sentence is declared is because the court cases are prolonged. While Dr. Mario Gomez of the Law Commission of Sri Lanka said that at the very least the Supreme Court should set up guidelines to direct High Court Judges when passing verdicts on sexual offenders. The Attorney General’s Department however, did not have a satisfactory response, instead they were vague and uncommitted.
So what hope is there? Well for now we can raise awareness. Having read this do share this information with friends and family, if we can make enough noise about it, maybe the government will finally realise that intimidation and forced sex is nothing close to a petty crime.
– Megara Tegal
Meg is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She’s a journalist, part time TV show host, 3rd grade caricature artist, student in social sciences and she holds the world prize for klutz-iness. Her opinions are her own. She blogs here.
Day sixteen features a photograph by Raashid Riza.
It’s the final day of the campaign and we’re highlighting how children affected by domestic violence. Contributing to the topic, the following post was made by Bhagya Senaratne.
It’s not my story to tell. However, I have been privy to this for a few years now. I was shocked to say the least, when I got to know her story, their story.
The story’s my friend’s, her family’s. To any outsider, even myself, they would fit in to the neatly worded “happy family” category. Or so the exterior did seem. But the insides of this happy family were crumbling.
It was the usual story of abuse towards the wife. The husband or my friend’s father would have one too many to drink at home and would find sorry excuses to beat his wife. He would leave her with bad bruises after thrashing her around the house, screaming at her, throwing things at her if not her.
If only he stopped at that. He used to take his intoxicated anger on his children as well; pulling them by their hair, throwing them against the walls etc. My friend used to go through the worst of fits, with being flung down stairs and smashed against cupboards on top of the other abuse.
Even a call to a friend during an episode like this is life threatening. The father would come looking for her, even if she were to lock herself in the room. Her physical bruises weren’t that visible but her mother wasn’t that lucky.
What I found intriguing about this was that, their’s is an educated family. Both parents are in respectable professions, and it really made me wonder why a man of with his background would do something like this to his loved ones and also why a lady of her nature would endure this.
However, this doesn’t end like most of the other stories where the victims don’t stand up. My friend took the courage to stand up to her father and made him sign a ‘letter’ when he was sober, stating that he will seek counselling and that he won’t hurt his family again. This was before she was to go to the police and make a complaint and there after go to the Child Protection Authority. It was a tough decision for her and I respected her [and still do] very much. It was heart breaking for me to see her go through this and not be there during the worst of a series of situations and only help her sitting at a pc thousands of miles away in a different land. Unfortunately, the ‘letter’ didn’t work, but she used another technique in the form of non-violent communication which has thus far worked for her, with her father’s responses to her changing.
It has been a year now, and to this day I haven’t heard her complain about his behaviour. So I guess, one can get lucky if they stand up and express their feelings.
Day fifteen features a photograph by T.
Intimate partner violence is a little studied, yet frequently occurring phenomenon in Sri Lanka. IPV occurs in many ways, including physical, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse by a spouse. Reports show that there is a high prevalence of abuse such as marital rape and sexual abuse, wife beating and assault with a weapon.
Sri Lankan society tends to take the very backward view that what happens within the home should stay within the home, and that some abuse is always a part of marriage. The Demographic and Health Survey 2006/2007 shows that between 20-50% of women think a husband is justified in wife-beating for reasons such as “argues with him”, “goes out without telling him” and “refuses to have sexual intercourse with him”. A study conducted among a sample of undergraduate medical students at the University of Colombo revealed that “33.4% of the students justified wife beating, and 63.1% stated that they believed women bear a proportionately larger responsibility for the violence perpetrated against them” (Jayatilleke et al, 2010)
Perceptions and attitudes play an important role in how women are perceived within a relationship, but also affect the help that is available to them after violence occurs. The attitudes and sensitivity of police, healthcare workers and the community are important in helping to alleviate IPV.
While society turns a blind eye, many reasons have been cited for IPV. Alcoholism, early marriage age, low income and existing patriarchal attitudes, among a slew of other reasons, all contribute towards IPV. None of them, however, are an excuse.
One day left of the 16 day campaign… Tomorrow 10 December, will feature the last photograph of the 16 day online campaign against gender based violence by the WMC campaign against GBV.
For more information about this campaign click here
T is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She works in the development sector and has mad culinary skills. She’s a writer, a poet and she dabbles in photography. She blogs at Dance in a Triangle. Her opinions are her own.
Day thirteen features a photograph by Rushda Mohinudeen.
While gender-based violence has recently emerged as a salient topic in the human security community, it has been framed principally with respect to violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence. In this article, I argue that gender-based violence against men (including sexual violence, forced conscription, and sex-selective massacre) must be recognized as such, condemned, and addressed by civilian protection agencies and proponents of a ‘human security’ agenda in international relations. Men deserve protection against these abuses in their own right; moreover, addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in conflict situations is inseparable from addressing the forms of violence to which civilian men are specifically vulnerable.
– Sage Journals Online
Watch this blog for the next 4 days. We’ll be posting a featured photograph each day till 10 December as part of WMC campaign against GBV.
For more information about this campaign click here
Rushda Mohinudeen is a member of the steering committee of Beyond Borders. She heads ReachOut (a women’s rights group), works at an advertising agency and enjoys calling people koonjis. More of her photography can be found here.