Image: Group of Muslim female students visiting Galle Fort,July 2016(c)s.deshhapriya
Statement: Let’s come together to support our sisters who have raised their voice for women’s rights and against discrimination.
The constitutional reform process has initiated important discussions about legal reform. Among them is the need to better protect women’s rights and reform laws that discriminate against women. As women leaders who have worked for more than 25 years on women’s rights, we welcome this focus.
We call for changing laws that discriminate against us, including the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, the Thesavalamai, Land Development Ordinance, the Vagrants Ordinance and sections 365 and 365A of the penal code.
In August this year, our sisters from the Women Action Network (WAN) made recommendations on reforming discriminatory laws to the Fundamental Rights Parliamentary Sub-Committee of the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka. However, since then they have been vilified and attacked in several public meetings by some Muslim community leaders. These speeches have also been widely circulated through social media.
We are saddened and shocked that such dedicated women leaders committed to advance the well-being of women and their communities have been attacked in this way.
We reiterate some of the demands made by our sisters –
Article 16 (1) of the current constitution should be repealed and the constitution should ensure that all citizens are should be treated equally.
“Article 12 of the current constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women and non-discrimination. However, article 16 (1) protects many laws that discriminate against women and the marginalised citizen”.
Reform personal laws that discriminate against women.
Protect all Sri Lankans by enforcing a minimum age of marriage of 18 years for all citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity.
Remove the practice of dowry/kaikuli, which has led to coercion and harassment of married women and their families as well as domestic violence.
Appoint women Quazis to ensure women’s access to equal justice in Quazi Ensuring women can become Quazis, adjudicators, marriage registrars, and members of the Board of Quazis is to recognise Muslim women as equal Sri Lankan citizens. Exlcuding women from these positions, which are publicly funded also amounts to state-sanctioned discrimination against Sri Lankan Muslim women.
We strongly support our sisters from WAN in their struggle and demand respect for the dignity and safety of all those working for women’s rights and well-being.
Women and girls face much violence because of discriminatory laws. To prevent such violence against women and girls, and to ensure accountability for such violence, these laws must be reformed.
We call on everyone to come together to ensure that such public attacks do not recur, and that the dignity of women leaders who are at the forefront of these struggles are upheld.
Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management, (Batticaloa women’s network)
We, the undersigned, endorse this statement and support the call to reform the laws discriminatory towards women.
1. Abha Bhaiya – India
2. Afkar Fazil – Student
3. Afrah Niwas – Univ. of Peradeniya
4. Ashila Niroshi – Standup Movement
6. Asma Azhar – Student, University of Peradeniya
7. Ayesha Kidwai – Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
8. Azra Wazeer – Temporary Lecturer, University of Peradeniya
9. Bhavani Fonseka
10. Binda Pandey
11. Bisliya Bhutto – Kilinochchi
13. Cayathri D
14. Damairia Pakpahan – Yogyakarta, Indonesia
15. Deanne uyangoda
16. Dinushika Dissanayake
17. Dr. Minna Thaheer – Policy Advisor/Activist & Researcher
18. Dr. Camena Guneratne
19. Dr.V. Rukmini Rao – India
21. Elankovan S.C.C
22. Elangeswary Arunasalam
23. Farhana Raheem – Legal Assistant
25. Hana Nayeem – Student
26. Harini Amarasuriya
27. Hashtag Generation
28. Hana Ibrahim
29. Hisham Muhammed – Management Accountant
30. Huriyyah Fahim Hameed, Assistant Researcher
31. Iman Fahim Hameed – Research and Lab Management
32. Indrani Rajendran- Independent Consultant Colombo
33. Kamani Jinadasa
34. Kamla Bhasin – India
35. Karththiha Thananjan
36. Kamayani Bali Mahabal feminist and human rights activist, India
37. Kalyani Suntharalingam
38. Kapoor, Women’s rights activist, Kolkata, India
39. Kumudini Samuel – Women and Media Collective
40. Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia
41. Kuhanithy Kuhanesan
42. Kayathry Yasothanan
44. Letchumanan Kamaleswary
45. Mangaleswary Shanker – Attorney-at-Law
46. Malathi de Alwis
47. Mariam Siddeeque
48. Marisa de Silva
49. Mariam Muhammed – Housewife
50. Mariam Wadood – Attorney-at-Law
51. Mumthaz Ansar – Temporarily Instructor ELTU
52. Muhammed Naufer – Accountant
53. M. A. Nuhman formerly Professor of Tamil, Univ. of Peradeniya
54. Paba Deshapriya
55. Navaranjini Nadarajah Sureka
56. Prematha Namasivayam
57. Rafia Gulani Women’s Rights Activist
58. Rahini . B
59. Rajany Rajeswary – Feminist, Jaffna
60. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-Law
61. Ramzi Shahabdeen – Accountant and Business Analyst
62. Rajaluxmi Kandaiyah
63. Rita Manchanda South Asia Forum for Human Rights
64. Ruki Fernando
65. R Vasuky
66. Sarala Emmanuel
67. Sara Wazeer – Student, Sherwood Girls’ College, Ambatenna
68. Sankhitha Gunaratne
69. Saba Ismail from Aware Girls
70. Saadia Haq – Human rights journalist and feminist, Pakistan
71. Saswati ghosh- HOD and ASSOCIATE PROF, Economics. City College. Kolkata
73. Shanthi Sivanesan
74. Shahul Hameed Hasbullah – Formerly Prof. in Geography,University of Peradeniya
75. Shamra Wazeer – Student, Loyal Ladies’ College, Polgolla
76. Shamil Mansoor – Chartered Management Accountant
77. Shanaz Mansoor – Accountant
78. Shafani Riyas – Preschool Teacher
79. Shyamani Hettiarachchi
80. Sitralega Maunaguru
81. Sivamohan Sumathy University of Peradeniya
82. Sritharuni Sritharan
83. Sriranjini Thiyagarajah
84. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel
85. Sumithra. S
86. Sumika Perera -Coordinator, Women’s Resource Centre
87. Suhanthini Thiventhiram- Kilinochchi
88. Suthaharan Kanagaretnam
89. S. Renuka
93. Tasneem Hamead
95. Thavachchelvi Rasan
97. Udeni Thewarapperuma –Attorney At Law
98. Uma Chakravarti
99. Vanie Saimon
100. Vasanthakala Pratheepan
101. Vasuki Jeyashankar – Women’s Rights Activist
102. Venushri Puvaneswaran
103. Vijitha Ehamparanathan – Trincomalee
104. Vijayaluxmi Seharuban
105. Zaheer Mohamed- Hotel Manager, Grange Hotel, London
106. Zulhama Fazil – Student
1. Affected Women Forum – Akkaraipattu
2. Beyond Beijing Committee Nepal
3. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
4. Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Trincomalee
5. Gramya Resource Centre for Women – India
6. Joint Women’s Programme – India
7. Mannar Women’s Development Federation
8. Northern Women Action Advocacy Network(NWAAN) – Vavuniya
9. Programme on Women’s Economic Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR) – India
10. Peshraft Foundation for Human Rights, Pakistan.
11. SAFA for ESCR , South Asian Feminist Alliance
12. Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Batticaloa
13. The Grassrooted Trust
14. Women In Need
15. Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management
16. Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka