Violence against women is still at large in Sri Lanka - Survey.By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Domestic violence and violence against women is still at large in Sri Lanka. According to a survey carried out recently by the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization the incidence of violence against women is between 18.3 percent and sixty percent.
During a Media Symposium on Domestic Violence organized by the Family Rehabilitation Centre, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Colombo, Dr. Subangi Herath said there were over five thousand acts of serious violence committed against women recorded with the Police last year. The symposium was titled "From Domestic Violence towards Family Harmony.
"All forms of violence are on the increase in Sri Lanka – even violence against women. However, it is difficult to account for numbers in domestic violence as on most occasions they go unreported," she said. This is due to social and cultural attitudes towards domestic violence. Society often turns a blind eye towards it. |"A husband could batter his wife, but society (some times even parents and Police) are unwilling to interfere thinking of the culture we live in," Dr. Herath said.
Facts that promote domestic violence are; mainly cultural factors, myths, beliefs and attitudes. The common belief is that the woman belongs to the weaker sex and is not as powerful and physically strong as her partner (husband or male partner). Some of these beliefs and attitudes are those which have been historically developed and therefore are strongly rooted in the minds of people.
Giving several instances where women were victims of domestic violence and had been subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse by either an alcoholic or suspicious husband, Dr. Herath said, the woman would not hesitate to leave such a situation if she lived in an extended family. She would be ready to leave such a marriage if she was economically stable or if it was an arranged marriage.
"However as it happens most often women are reluctant to leave because they are economically dependant on their husbands or have children from him. Therefore if a woman is forced to live with domestic violence for a long period she would lose her personality, she will have health hazards (even HIV/AIDS or another sexually transmitted disease), permanent disabilities and psychological damage.
Consultant Gynecologist and Obstetrician, Dr. Lakshman Senanayake said that domestic or gender based violence could lead to murder, suicide, depression, unwanted pregnancies, and gynecological problems in women.