Sri Lanka: Continued Rape and Sexual Harassment in Former Conflict Zone
Monday, October 28, 2013 9:30 PM

A report by the London-based organization, Minority Rights Group (MRG), accuses the Sri Lankan government of failing to protect women in the north and east, former conflict zones of the 26-year civil war, from sexual abuse and violence. A 2010 government estimate found that 89,000 widows in the region are especially vulnerable to rape and sexual harassment because of their poverty. One hospital in the north had 102 reported cases of rape and "severe violence" against women and girls in 2010, according to the MRG report. The same hopsital had 182 reported cases in 2011 and 56 in just February and March of 2012.

The report credits the end of conflict in 2009 when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam were crushed by government forces as a reason for the increase in sex crimes. A Tamil woman cited in the report said, “After the conflict the situation has got a lot worse. People are less disciplined. There are outsiders who have come from other areas. There are lot of army people; they are in buses, everywhere.”


The Sri Lankan government denied the problem and asserted that the criminal justice system functions for victims of such crimes. The MRG South Asia expert, however, found that Tamil and Muslim women feared reporting attacks to the authorities. The group calls on the Sri Lankan government to establish Tamil-speaking desks at all police stations in the former conflict areas, as well as to improve the female representation among government officials in those regions and to increase the prosecution of perpetrators.