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

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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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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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