Sri Lanka: Widespread Gender-based Violence cuts across class, race, religion, ethnicity ..... Print E-mail
 Colombo ~~ Tuesday November 25 2008

International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

Nadira Gunatilleke

Colombo: The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women falls today.

Sri Lanka has made progress on various fronts particularly in the legal domain, in an attempt to end violence against women.

For example the adoption of the Women’s Charter, the amendments to the Penal Code in 1995, Domestic Violence Act in 2005.

The Gender Based Violence Forum (GBV Forum) says the most prevalent types of violence against women in Sri Lanka are rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, forced prostitution and trafficking. These crimes are not particular to a certain region or locality but are widespread and cuts across class, race, religion, ethnicity etc.

In many cases these violations are hidden, this is especially true of domestic violence, which according to the UN Rapporteur on Violence Against Women is reported to have been experienced by 60 per cent of Sri Lankan women.

According to the GBV Forum it is acknowledged globally and in Sri Lanka that victims of violence are largely women, whether in urban or rural homes, inside buses or trains, in the streets or in places of work.

Women living outside their homes such as in camps, shelters, institutions like detention centres and orphanages etc are even more vulnerable to all forms of violence and abuse. Due to poor reporting and the social stigma attached to gender based violence, the reported numbers do not reflect the real situation.

Nevertheless the reported cases have increased. But whether this is due to increasing incidents of gender based violence or due to efforts by many organisations to encourage women to speak out against this crime, remains unclear, sources said.