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Sri Lankan women call for stronger measures to protect their rights

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Women leaders from four provinces in Sri Lanka have urged local government authorities to strengthen efforts to protect women, who have been affected by the country’s economic, political, and Covid-19 crisis this year.From March to September 2022, UN Women hosted a series of Multi-party Dialogues on Women, Peace and Security in nine districts to identify and discuss solutions to challenges faced by women there. Close to 200 persons including women leaders participated in the sessions, representing the North Central, Uva, Western, and Sabaragamuwa Provinces.

UN Women organised the first phase of the multi-party dialogues between 2018 and 2022 in 16 districts across five provinces in the country, which focused on strengthening women’s leadership and decision-making role within the peace and security landscape. The current phase of dialogues covered the country’s remaining four provinces and took place in the districts of Anuradhapura, Badulla, Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kegalle, Monaragala, Polonnaruwa, and Ratnapura.

Participants raised concerns about issues including a shortage of safe houses, lack of awareness about available services, and weak referral systems for survivors of violence. “Over the last few months, complaints on violence against women have drastically increased, and most of the time, these women have no place to go,” said one dialogue participant, a women’s development officer from the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Social Empowerment.

Another participant, a district coordinator from Gampaha District in the Western Province, said: “Because of the economic crisis, many garment factories are closing. Some women have worked in these factories for 20-plus years. On top of that, they are burdened with taking care of their families. As a result, they are unable to find new jobs.”

Ramaaya Salgado, Country Focal Point of UN Women Sri Lanka, said the multi-party dialogues aimed to gather a variety of stakeholders including women leaders, public sector officials, civil society organisations, youth leaders and the media “to collectively promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to ensure that there is no rollback of gains made over the years.”

In each of the dialogues, participants developed district-level ‘work plans’ in which they recommended that the local authorities:

Strengthen coordination between front-line government officials and civil society organisations to implement initiatives, on women, peace and security; allocate budgets and other provisions to establish safe houses for women in each district; carry out campaigns to educate rural women about public services such as legal aid and counselling for survivors of violence; provide gender sensitivity training for Police and other law enforcement officers; during the dialogue sessions, the participants also received training on the principles of women, peace and security, which calls for increased participation of women at all levels of decision-making and for ensuring that women and girls are not left behind in relief and recovery efforts.The dialogues are part of UN Women’s three-year programme on supporting the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Sri Lanka, which is funded by the Government of Japan.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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