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Lockdown has resulted in an increase in domestic violence in Sri Lanka

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The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence (NFAGBV) in Sri Lanka has called for immediate attention to the challenges faced by victims of domestic violence during the pandemic, related lockdowns.

Domestic violence has been recognized globally as a widespread violation of human rights even prior to the pandemic.

In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries including Sri Lanka have employed travel restrictions, directions to stay and work from home, and limited access to courts.

NFAGBV says these measures have directly resulted in a manifold increase in domestic violence and have placed unprecedented challenges in the way of victims.

The UN Secretary-General recognizing the ‘horrifying global surge in domestic violence’ has called for a ‘ceasefire at home’.

Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, there has been an increased demand for support services in regards to domestic violence to which the Members of the National Forum have been responding in various capacities.

“Whilst we acknowledge and commend the response taken by the Government to operationalize the National Hotline 1938 for 24 hrs, there are further challenges that require immediate attention. The concern is that failing to respond may result in serious harm or fatalities,” NFAGBV said.

The legal obligation to protect is reflected in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 2005 (PDVA) and the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act, No. 4 of 2015.

The current challenge is to offer practical and effective responses to these incidents, particularly by first responders.

“We are concerned about instances of failure to believe victim narratives that cause fear and inflict blame and shame on the survivors, demanding victims to return to their abusers and the failure to provide them with support and referrals,” NFAGBV said.

As a national body of state and non-governmental organizations working against gender-based violence in Sri Lanka, the National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence called on the respective Sri Lankan authorities in law enforcement and social services to urgently adopt standard protocols on responding to domestic violence specific to the pandemic.

“Ensure that calls for assistance are responded to promptly, that survivors are not burdened or re-victimized by being compelled to return to abusive homes or attend inquiries during travel restrictions, survivors are assisted in terms of securing medical treatment, examinations by Judicial Medical Officers for maintenance of official records, and referred to public and private institutions providing care, assistance and protection during this time,” the National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence said.

It also called on the justice sector of the country to deploy without delay, a mechanism for survivors in need of urgent protection orders to secure such orders by means of online applications in terms of the PDVA.

The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence sought the support of the Sri Lanka Police to communicate protection orders to respondents, and to monitor and respond to breaches of such protection orders.

It also called on the leaders of political and administrative offices to highlight the importance of safeguarding the rights of and providing safe and non-judgmental protection to survivors of violence is crucial at this juncture.

“Bearing in mind that the impact of the violence experienced during this time is likely to have long-term socio-economic costs and inter-generational consequences, the urgency for public messaging and measures cannot be overstated,” NFAGBV said.

The National Forum Against Gender-Based Violence said that such messages and measures will make a difference to those needing assistance and will embolden and empower communities to assist survivors of domestic violence. Let us work together to make this difference.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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