SRI LANKA: Minister Sirisena sheds crocodile tears regarding the increase of rape and child abuse

The Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena, was reported as saying that 65 percent of the cases before the courts in Polunowara district concern rape, child abuse and the harassment of women. He also said that this has created great discouragement in his own political life. The minister made this statement at a conference held at the Medirigiriya National School to mark the International Day of Women. He attributed this increase in crimes of the sexual abuse of women and children to the use of telephones, laptop computers and television.

If the minister is really concerned about the increase of these crimes what he should look into is the failure of the law enforcement systems in Sri Lanka, which is the direct result of the political measures taken by the government. The government has virtually made the civilian policing system dysfunctional. The minister himself voted for the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which paralysed the only way that any country controls serious crime; that is through an effective civilian policing system.

Minister Sirisena, being one of the more senior members of the government, if he is, as he says, concerned about the increase of crimes against women and children, he should take up that matter with the executive president and the government. If such increase in crime has been an issue that has caused great discouragement in his political life then it is his duty to take it up with the government and demand a change of policy which could reestablish Sri Lanka’s civilian policing system which is the only instrument through which an effective strategy for the prevention of, or at least limiting of such crimes could take place.

The minister has also said that since Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country there is no need to commemorate the women’s day as the Buddhist environment and the culture guarantees freedom for women. Neither Buddhism nor any other religion can take the place of the basic legal structure when it comes to the protection of women or anyone else for that matter. When politicians, in order to abuse power, virtually destroy the civilian policing system, the blame for that should not be placed on Buddhism or any other religion. No culture can flourish when lawlessness is spread throughout the land.

Minister Sirisena cannot on the one hand support the country’s executive presidential system as it exists now which destroys all the public institutions in the country and at the same time claim that he is deeply concerned about the increase of crimes against women and children. The political responsibility for the increase of these crimes and the insecurity caused to women and children lies with the government as long as the legal institutions, which have the function of providing security to the citizens is allowed to be destroyed.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-067-2013
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Judicial system,