Around 74,000 children affected annually by trauma and mental strain

– Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe

Due instability caused by domestic violence


At the head-table: Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe, Ms. Cyrene Siriwardena, UNDP Technical Expert, Professor Manique Guneratne, Dean Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Open University, Bro. Lionel Peiris, of the Franciscan Brothers, Manique Gunawardena, IT Professional and Trainer Employers Federation of Ceylon.
(Pic by Sujatha Jayaratne)

By Steve A. Morrell

Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe said that hard facts are that women are still literally second class citizens. This phenomenon is common in the widest cross section of the social order with no identified respite in the foreseeable future.

She was addressing The World Vision International Women’s Day commemoration in Colombo as the keynote speaker.

The World Vision circumstance brought about discrimination at work, at home, and priority areas where women were virtually second class citizens.

Sri Lanka’s record on women’s rights and equal treatment of women both at home and worksites was that the country comparatively was placed 79th in a world survey. An indicator portraying such dismal returns pointedly attributed facts that women were not credited with even simple decision-making processors, both domestically and at work.

Stemming from such increases approximately 74,000 children are affected annually. Trauma and mental strain have placed these children in an uncertain area of instability consequent to domestic violence, she said.

Cyrene Siriwardena presenting the subject ‘Significant Legal Lessons Learnt of Tackling Violence Against Women’, said at least five rape cases are reported daily. In 2012, the total number recorded was 4,393, indicating an increase of about 20 percent. Currently that figure exceeded, and although rape has been reported to courts, and cases taken up, she said invariably, the guilty are warned and discharged.

There are laws that could be applied, but court action is so lackadaisical that in effect the victim is more traumatized than the rapist, she said.

Domestic violence has increased and more recent statistics showed that 44 percent victims were pregnant when they were beaten. Convictions were rare. Although there were laws to control rape such controls were not effectively applied, Ms. Siriwardena opined.

At present, those in the 15 to 20 age group committing rape is increasing, she pointed out.

Director, World Vision, Suresh Bartlett, introducing the subject at discussion, stressed on gender balance in workplaces, and the need for women to function in an equal area of work application.

He, however, said the micro finance sector indicated that there were about 50,000 borrowers at that level who were women. Additionally, women were better business propositions because they honoured their debts. Banks too would lend to women because their repayment records were better.

Micro finance was one area of recognizing women as entrepreneurs and their assertion as individuals, he noted.

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