The iconic Colombo Municipal Council building was illuminated in orange with messaging on the national women’s helpline and Mithuru Piyasa hotline to place a spotlight on intimate partner violence and encourage more women to seek help.
The illumination organised by UNFPA in collaboration with the Colombo Municipal Council and the High Commission of Canada, launched the 16 days of global activism against gender-based violence in Sri Lanka with a focus on intimate partner violence. The intervention is the culmination of a trilingual national media campaign on intimate partner violence highlighting evidence from the Women’s Wellbeing Survey (WWS), Sri Lanka’s first national survey on women and girls.
Many women who experienced sexual violence by a partner did not seek formal help anywhere.
Encouraging more victims to seek help and ensuring support systems are available and accessibility is essential for the recovery and prevention of violence against women and girls in Sri Lanka.
Speaking on the importance of collective action to end intimate partner violence Colombo Mayor, Rosy Senanayake, “Violence against women can happen to anyone, anywhere so it is vital that we talk about this issue widely. She said she was happy to be collaborating yet again with UNFPA to raise awareness on this very pertinent issue.”
The 2019 Well Being survey found one in four 24.9 cent women have experienced physical and sexual violence since age 15 by a partner or non partner.
Intimate partner violence is the most common form of sexual violence impacting millions of women worldwide Covid 19 lockdown and travel restriction have disrupted women’s access to life saving sexual and reproductive wealth sciences.
Physical, sexual or psychological harm by a partner is a major factor in maternal and reproductive health of mothers and newborns pointed out the 2019 Women’s Wellbeing survey.
For example, women suffering from intimate partner violence are less likely to use or even have a say in using contraception which would lead to unplanned pregnancies.
The Survey found that one in five (20.4%) women in Sri Lanka have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. The survey also found that women who experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner had contemplated suicide; highlighting the serious repercussions violence has on the lives of women and girls.
Highlighting the importance of policies that take the evidence of the WWS into account Mr. Daniel Joly, Counsellor and Head of Development Cooperation, High Commission of Canada in Sri Lanka stated “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Sri Lanka and several other countries to end all forms of violence. it has been a long journey but I am pleased to see the results of the WWS we supported come to light today in the form of crucial evidence. Surveys like this are on essential building block in working towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls.”
UNFPA will continue advocating with its partners beyond the 16 days to encourage collective action to take the message of 16 days of advocacy forward to different audiences in Sri Lanka for a world free of gender-based violence and harmful practices towards women and girls ahead of the 2030 Agenda.
Women in Sri Lanka are oppressed under represented and harassed, even in the sanctity of their homes is a sad story.
To raise this awareness the UNFPA in Sri Lanka partnered with Sri Lanka Medical Association to organise a panel discuss on “The impact of gender violence”.
Sri Lanka is a country that prides itself for its rich cultural heritage and values. Our social ethos are highly recognised by many. However, amidst the vibrant, rich culture this ugly truth lurks in the background, the fact that Women in Sri Lanka are oppressed under represented and harassed, even in the sanctity of their homes is a sad story.
The surveys results were made public recently in a special event heralding the start of 16 days of activism with a call to end intimate partner violence. Needless to say, this all occurred during a period of time when attention towards the injustice women face was hot on people’s minds, where the uncouth. harassing remarks of a Parliament minister towards a female minister of Parliament faced little to no repercussions after refusing to apologise for his conduct, and the news of the Kinniya bridge tragedy was fresh in people’s minds as well.
One only needs to look back to the various news reports of this year to recall a number of other heinous acts inflicted upon women in Sri Lanka; one such being the beheading and dismemberment of a young woman whose remains were discovered in a discarded suitcase, the culprit a Policeman nonetheless.
As such it is clear that Sri Lanka does indeed have a problem with how its people treat the women around them, with men usually being the guilty party
Although such reports alluded to a major societal issue, there had never been concrete proof of how widespread the issue of how Sri Lankan women are treated .However, where there is smoke, there is fire and in this case, a blazing inferno – putting into question how Sri Lankan women are truly treated, even in their own homes.
Although a home should evoke feelings of safety and security, of love and freedom, that is not the reality for one in five women in Sri Lanka, who have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and that women in Sri Lanka are more than twice as likely to have experienced physical violence at the hands of a partner than by another.
Additionally, two in five women in Sri Lanka have experienced physical, sexual, emotional and/or economic violence, and/or controlling behaviour by a partner in their lifetime, revealing the sad truth that for many women in our
country, their homes are not in fact safe havens, or escapes from the evils of the world. For many, the danger lies within, at the hands of the person she shares her life with.
The danger has only increased with the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, which locked their victims in (more often than not) with their aggressors, with no means of escape for months on end.
Needless to say, the violence, aggression, and controlling behaviour imposed upon women in Sri Lanka have far-reaching consequences, ones that could even be seen and identified from generation to generation.
In fact, the children of parents who are in an abusive relationship are found to be more likely to drop-out of school, and it was also discovered that such children are more likely to grow up and become aggressors or victims as adults, according to the findings of the survey
Global evidence also shows children who have experienced or witnessed violence at home are more likely to become either perpetrators or victims of SGBV We must stop this vicious cycle.
Violence against women and girls continues to plague women in Sri Lanka and across the world, but this year COVID-19 has fanned the flames and this is the reason to highlight it now more than ever.
The pandemic’s long-term socio-economic effect may make the road steeper, but the joint efforts must continue.