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Female LG members to fight abuse at the hands of their male counterparts



By Pradeep Prasanna Samarakoon

Female local government members are planning to sink their political differences and form a front against what they call unfair male domination in their councils.

Addressing the media at Thalawatugoda on Saturday Maharagama Urban Council SLFP Member Chandrika de Zoysa said that their male counterparts did not allow them to speak at council meetings.

“This is a problem not limited only to the Maharagama UC. Female members are treated likewise in all MCs, UCs and Pradeshiya Sabhas. Whenever we try to speak the male council members irrespective of their party affiliations shout at us and humiliate us. Their domination is mostly overlooked and we have no chance to speak on the problems of the people who had voted for us.”

She said that the male council members hurled verbal abuse and addressed them in vulgar language and cracked dirty jokes much to the annoyance of female members. “We intend to form an organisation against these elements.

UNP Member of the Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte Municipal Council Harshani Sandaruwani said that the gender-based discrimination prevailing in the local government had to be ended forthwith. “We are harassed by male council members and they gang up overlooking their party differences to hurl various verbal abuse at us. The female council members are helpless. We have no one to turn to. Therefore, we decided to form an organisation of female council members countrywide and raise our voice.”

“We are elected representatives of people who pay rates. It is our duty to raise their problems but the gender-based discrimination prevailing in the MCs, UCs and Pradeshiya Sabhas does not permit us to do our job.”

Maharagama SLPP UC member Savithri Gunasekera said that there were 24 female members in the Maharagama UC of which the total number of members was 47. “We have more than half of the council members but none of us is able to speak at the council meeting. Some of the female members are scared of speaking about this problem openly for fear of reprisal. We call on the relevant authorities to bring in new laws to prevent the harassment by male council members. Whenever we submit a motion it is removed. This is a great injustice.”

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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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