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SL College of Psychiatrists condemns caning of girl

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Statement by the Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists on the recent beating to death of a nine-year-old girl in Delgoda in a brutal exorcism ritual

It was widely reported in both public and social media recently that a nine-year-old girl was caned to death by an exorcist in the belief that it would drive an evil spirit away. It was further reported that the mother of the girl believed her daughter had been possessed by a demon and took her to the home of the ritualistic healer so a ritual could be performed. The police media spokesman reported that the exorcist first applied oil on the girl and then began to hit her repeatedly with a cane, due to the belief that the demon needed to be expelled.

Caning a 9-year-old is considered a cruel act in any civilized society but caning a nine-year-old child until she dies is downright barbaric and inhuman. Such acts belong firmly to stone-age societies. From the information available to us, this child was caned as an act of exorcism. Just the rationale of beating a vulnerable body of a nine-year-old to punish a demon is beyond belief. The beliefs in demonic possession and exorcism too belong to another era and relate to a belief system of middle ages in Europe. Such ancient thinking is still common in our society and seen in all segments of society. We would like to note that deaths and suffering due to ancient beliefs and practices are more common than this reported case.

We in Sri Lanka too have made little progress in countering these ancient beliefs and practices over the last 50 years. However, Psychiatry and other related psychological sciences have advanced to the extent that these so-called possession states and other similar behaviours can be explained and treated.

It is well known that possession states occur when there is a temporary loss of sense of personal identity and the individual may act as if they have been taken over by another personality, spirit or force. It is a psychiatric disorder called “Possession disorder” for which effective psychological and behavioural treatments are available. This may occur due to underlying significant stressors that the individual may be undergoing and may be associated with clinical depression. Medication may be helpful in such situations.

These individuals who repeatedly go into trance and possession states should be referred for psychiatric assessments following which they may be referred for psychiatric or psychological treatments. Today, every district in Sri Lanka has a general psychiatry and a child psychiatry clinic that can investigate these abnormal behaviours and deliver treatment. But unnecessary suffering and death due to persistent belief in demonic forces continue to happen. We would like to urge the Health Ministry, Education Ministry and the media to join us in educating the public about the real nature of these beliefs and practices.



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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