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Nearly half of Lankan women subject to violence by their partner does not seek formal help



Controlling behaviour by men has been identified as the most common form of reported violence against women in Sri Lanka by a recent national survey conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics with the technical assistance from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its regional kNOwVAWdata Initiative (supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)) and funding from the Government of Canada.

The National Survey on Violence against Women has found that controlling behaviour of male reflected the lack of agency women have to take decisions regarding their lives.

The survey covered all 25 districts in Sri Lanka and interviewed more than 2,200 women aged 15 and above. The study found that in Sri Lanka, one in five women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

In analysing women’s coping strategies when living with violence by a partner, the study found that nearly half (49.3%) of the women who experienced sexual violence by a partner did not seek formal help anywhere due to reasons such as shame, embarrassment and fear of being blamed or not being believed, and/or thinking the violence was normal or not serious enough to seek help.

It has also observed that two in every five women have experienced physical, sexual, emotional, and/or economic violence and/or controlling behaviours by a partner in their lifetime. One in every five women have experienced economic abuse by a partner in their lifetime. Measurements were based on the partner taking her earnings; refusing to provide money for household expenditure even when he had the money; prohibiting her from income generating activities.

The survey reveals that women in Sri Lanka are more than twice as likely to have experienced physical violence by a partner (17.4% of all women experienced this in their lifetime) than by a non-partner. One in every five have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since age 15 by a partner or non-partner. Close to half (49.3%) of the women who experienced sexual violence by a partner did not seek formal help anywhere. Of the women who sought help from formal services just over one third (37.3%) went to the police and around one fifth (21.6%) sought help from hospitals and health care centres.

Most women did not seek help as they did not know of available services, and feared they would not be believed; be blamed for the violence; shamed and embarrassed; and most importantly be told that it is normal and not a grave violation. More than half the women who faced violence 52.3% stated the main reason for not leaving home was they did not want to leave their children. One in every five women who experienced sexual violence by a partner told no one about it before being interviewed in this survey indicating the shame they feel within themselves to disclose violence, said a UNFPA Fact sheet on the survey.

It said that almost half of all women who had been interviewed for the purposes of the survey agreed that “a man should show he is the boss” (47.5%) and almost half agree that “a good wife obeys her husband even if she disagrees”. Two in every five women agreed with the statement that “women are obliged to have sex with their husbands when she does not feel like it.”

Women’s wellbeing could be measured by many aspects such as the access to decent employment, economic security, equal access to resources, political participation, decision making, health and personal safety. Violence against Women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations that impacts the progression and wellbeing of women and girls. This report focused on that aspect. With 52% of the population being women in Sri Lanka it is vital they are part of the development agenda. Global evidence highlights when women have the freedom to make their own choices and decisions they are able to contribute more effectively to a country’s development process. Sri Lanka has taken many measures to promote gender equality and has achieved gender parity or near parity in education and health through the introduction of free health and education services. However, many challenges remain in addressing gender equality and ensuring that women and girls can have a life of dignity and respect.

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CB Governor: Lanka now in a position to pay for essentials



‘Inflation will not be as high as initially expected’

Inflation will not be as high as initially expected and there are signs of economy stabilising, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe says.Dr. Weerasinghe said that during the past few months a number of initiatives had been made to improve the economy and they were yielding the desired results.

“During the last review, we thought the inflation would reach 70%. However, now we believe that the inflation will not be that high even with the electricity tariff hike,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe said that the severity of the shortage of foreign currency had lessened. The country was now in a position to import fuel, gas and medicines.

“This has become possible because of the decisions we took. Imports have decreased. Export revenue has somewhat increased. Even without short-term loans we have been able to meet our basic needs. This is a positive development,” Dr. Weerasinghe said.The CB Governor said that inflation driven by demand had lessened because the expansion of loans had been curtailed.The supply side inflation too would drop with price and foreign exchange stabilisation.

“Still the inflation is about 60% and that’s why we need to maintain the current high policy rates. Once the government adjusts the fiscal policy, tax, and presents the new budget, things will improve. I think you can also see this. We are seeing positives,” he said.

Dr. Weerasinghe also urged exporters to bring back the foreign exchange earnings, and that the Central Bank had taken steps to ensure that exporters abided by the CB regulations.

“The irregularities due to open accounts, hawala and undial are being controlled and the black market premium is dropping. The foreign exchange liquidity in the banking sector has increased,” he said.

The Governor added that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had made good progress. An IMF delegation was expected to visit Sri Lanka by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement.After Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF, it had to start engaging with its creditors on debt restructuring.

“Once we reach an agreement with the IMF the situation will improve further,” he added. (RK)

(See related stories in the business section)

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CID arrests Mervyn 15 years after he forcibly entered Rupavahini



By Norman Palihawadana

Former Minister Mervyn Silva was yesterday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for forcibly entering the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and attacking some employees there in 2007.On 27 Dec. 2007, Silva and his associates entered the SLRC premises and assaulted its news director for not airing a speech he had made in Matara.

SLRC employees held Silva incommunicado for hours, and the police intervened to secure his release. A few weeks later, some of the workers involved in the incident came under goon attacks.Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President at the time.

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Aeroflot affair: flights yet to resume; MP questions status of probe into detention of SU 289



ByShamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka hadn’t been able yet to convince Russia to resume Aeroflot flights and tourists from there to Sri Lanka suspended in the wake of the detention of SU 289 at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on the afternoon of June 02, authoritative sources said.

Sri Lanka grappling with an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage desperately needs tourists from an important destination like Russia, which earlier accounted for a sizeable share of the incoming traffic. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that relevant authorities were in the process of looking into the issue at hand.Having summoned Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Janitha Abeywickrema Liyanage soon after the incident at the BIA, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning over the incident.

In the wake of the Russian warning, the then government took measures to lift restrictions imposed on the aircraft that was to be detained till June 16. The detained SU 289 was allowed to leave on June 06.Former Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday (18) told The Island that no holds barred investigation was required to ascertain the truth.

Lawmaker Weerasekera said that the government should inform the Parliament of the progress of the investigation and what steps it intended to take as well as measures already taken to mend relations with Russia.

The retired Navy Chief of Staff said that those in authority should investigate whether a court ruling issued in respect of a case filed by Ireland-based Celestial Aviation Trading Company Ltd., against Aeroflot had been manipulated by interested parties.

It transpired that no sooner High Court Judge, S. M. H. S.P. Sethunge, in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province, Attorney-at-Law Aruna de Silva accompanied a fiscal officer of the same Court to the BIA at lightning speed to deliver the ruling.

Lawyer de Silva appeared for the plaintiff with Avindra Rodrigo, PC, (litigation) of FJ & Saram, leading law firm from the colonial times. The law firm has previously declined to comment on this matter.High Court judge Sethunga is on record as having said that he didn’t order the BIA not to permit Aeroflot SU 289 to take off on the afternoon of June 02.

Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nagasena, Coordinating Secretary to Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC yesterday (18) said that the Justice Ministry recommended action against the Attorney-at-Law to the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC. Nagasena said that the fiscal officer who served the Justice Ministry had been interdicted, pending further investigations. As regards the lawyer, it would be handled on the advice of the CJ, the official said. Responding to another query, the official said that the Justice Ministry hadn’t been informed yet of the progress of the investigations.

Ports, Shipping and Aviation Secretary K.D.S. Ruwanchandra yesterday said that ministry officials on Wednesday (17) discussed ways and means of resuming Aeroflot flights with relevant authorities, including the Russian embassy. Ruwanchandra said they were hopeful reaching a consensus on this matter soon. The official said so in response to The Island queries.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Pieris, PC, yesterday said that they could initiate an inquiry only on the basis of a formal complaint. He said so when The Island asked him whether the BASL initiated an inquiry into the lawyer’s conduct in this regard. The President’s Counsel said that normally the BASL wouldn’t launch an investigation into a matter inquired into by the CJ.

At the time of the BIA incident, Prof. G.L. Peiris had been the minister in charge of foreign affairs. Since the change of government, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has sworn in Ali Sabry, PC, as the new minister of foreign affairs.

Russia has pointed out that action was taken against SU 289 in spite of an assurance given by Sri Lanka in respect of regular flights to Colombo.Sri Lankan Airlines in late March suspended flights to Moscow in the wake of imposition of what the airline called operational restrictions in the wake of war between Russia and Ukraine.

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