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The Unknown Plight of Tamil Women

March 2, 2010
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Reprinted from Basics News:

February 22 – A nine-year-old Tamil girl was hospitalized after being gang raped by three Sri Lankan Army (SLA) soldiers. A man who protested against the rape was later found dead in a nearby lake and soldiers went door-to-door threatening villagers who started to protest against the atrocities. Reports indicate that the mother filed a complaint. However, given systemic impunity and the disgraceful record of prosecutions of Tamil women’s sexual offenders, chances are this 5th grade student will never receive justice…

February 20 – 49 Tamil women detained in the concentration camps were arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Department and taken to Boosa prison – a notorious detention center for torture, rape, murder and disappearances. Similarly another 54 Tamil women in the camps were arrested on February 24 and sent to Boosa prison. Nothing is known of their whereabouts since they are not allowed to contact their family members…

An 8-months pregnant woman, Manju, who is 1 of 254 Tamil Asylum seekers stranded on a boat in Indonesia since October 2009, has no guarantee from the Indonesian government that she will safely deliver her child and have access to medical care. Their boat was Australia-bound and was intercepted by the Indonesian navy upon Australia’s request, and now no country is willing to provide asylum. This has left the 254 Tamils stranded in a country that is not a signatory of the conventions on refugee rights and is denying them access to basic human necessities. To make matters worse, the Indonesian government has close ties with the Sri Lankan government and the former are willing to deport them back to Sri Lanka where they are sure to face further human rights abuses. What will become of this woman and her soon-to-be born child?

Tamil women are the most oppressed among the oppressed in Sri Lankan society. They are raped, tortured, sexually abused, abducted, forced into abortions and sterilizations, and murdered. Their perpetrators are hardly ever prosecuted. Their victimization and extinction is reflected in the fact that in comparison to the growth of the Sinhala population, the Tamil population in Sri Lanka has decreased by about 30% since 1948. Their voices have been silenced under the guns and subjugation of the Sri Lankan government, their stories buried with their mass graves dug by the SLA in attempts to hide their lust for violence and blood – forgotten forever. The imbedded culture of impunity has ranked Sri Lanka as the 3rd worst violator of Women’s Rights according to the South Asian Human Rights Index 2008. Even when Tamil women have resorted to armed resistance, their dead bodies end up being denigrated and stripped naked by the Army while captured on cameras/videos for entertainment. Dignity and respect is denied to these sisters, even in death. The struggles of Tamil women are suppressed or ignored in the big media outlets around the world and so there is a desperate need for regular people to advocate on their behalf. Tamil sisters will be mobilizing for IWD here in Toronto with the Migrant Women’s Coordinating Body – watch out for our banners! Join us in our struggles and stand in solidarity with women’s struggles globally.

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