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Let Us Eliminate Intersectional Oppressions against Women – North East Women’s Collective

12th March 2024

We, the women’s organizations, women human rights defenders and activists of all eight districts of North and East SriLanka, have come together to raise our voice against the intersectional oppressions face by the Tamil-speaking women of this region.

Beyond ethnic, religious and social differences all SriLankan women are undergoing patriarchal oppressions and violence. All Sri Lankan women are subjected to male dominated oppressions within the family, social life, in workplace and by the state. Violence against women has worsened due to Covid-19 and the economic crisis of the country. Cyber-crimes have also augmented.

However, we the Tamil speaking women, whose traditional habitat is North and East region of Sri Lanka, have been subjected to distinct intersectional oppressions:

  • We have been subjected to systematic ethnic and linguistic oppression by the Sri Lankan state for more than seven decades.
  • We are bearing the ravages and pains of genocidal war which continued for three decades
  • Until to date we are facing the threats of Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). As because of Tamil women our sisters are being arrested under PTA and detained. As mothers, wives and sisters we are forced to live in constant fear of the safety of our family members.
  • We are raising our voices to know the truth, to seek justice, to get fair reparations, to commemorate/to conduct memorialization of our loved ones and relatives and to live as citizens with dignified political rights.
  • As a most affected social group we are continuously insisting for accountability which is so far ignored by the SriLankan government.
  • Several of our women are still living as refugees due to the government’s systemic land grabbing. Due to arbitrary land grabbing by government departments such as Forest department and Archeological department, land encroachments by the state military, women has lost their habitats and agricultural lands and face economic devastation.
  • We are facing threats and humiliation due to systematic Sinhala colonization and Buddhisization in North and East areas executed by the state.
  • As women living in militarized areas, all women in North and East region are living in fear
  • All independent social activities of women in the North East are under constant surveillance by state intelligence agencies and women activists are facing threats and violations. For example, male investigators photograph women, visit homes in the evening and make phone calls at night in the name of investigation. Women who engage in human rights are called for police investigation, and police get court orders against women without any reason in order to threat women’s social engagement and so on.
  • The women of the families of the enforced disappeared persons are being threatened, monitored and assaulted by the security forces.

We Tamil women suffer not only because of the government’s racist oppression, but also from the age-old patriarchal oppression and denial of rights in the North-East Tamil society. Domestic violence, sexual assaults, murders and cyber crimes are being committed by men belonging to the Tamil community against women in their own families and in the society. Sexual harassment of girls in schools have increased. Women do not disclose workplace violence due to protect their jobs.

Apart from this, women are affected by the caste system, regional differences and religious disparities that exist in the Tamil society. Along with this, the anti-democratic ideas and backward cultural oppressions prevailing in the Tamil society are hindering the progress of women.

In this situation,

  • We call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to end the state’s ethnic and religious oppression, land occupation and militarization in the North East region.
  • We urge proper enforcement of law and order in the North East.
  • We demand the equal implementation of laws for all Sri Lankan women to live with inherent dignity, equality, individual freedom and liberty.
  • We claim the government officials and police to act impartially for the well-being and advancement of vulnerable women.
     – Photos by  NECC Srilanka

 

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