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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sri Lanka: Call for anti- women minister of women’s afairs and child development to resign

Minister with the first lady
 Mr. Tissa Karalliyadde has on several occasions made extremely sexist remarks that are humiliating to Sri Lankan women in general, without any sense of responsibility for the cabinet office he holds as Minister of Women’s Affairs and Child Development. He has stated on several public platforms that women should not be appointed to responsible positions of public office because by nature they are unable to get on with each other and constantly fight and slander other women.

A few days ago he stated that the idea of gender equality is a meaningless concept advocated only by some women from NGO groups who have no connection with the vast majority of rural women. He added that these NGO women have rejected values of”pathivatha”(fidelity to husband) in their family life. This abusive and insulting remark about an identified group of women working on issues of concern to women, and implying sexual promiscuity, were made in a TV programme (Sirasa Press Release, 15 November 2013) that received wide publicity.

Minister Karalliyadde is clearly unaware that the oath of office he has taken as a cabinet minister requires him to respect and follow the norms and standards set by our Constitution and national laws, and international treaties and policies that bind the Sri Lankan State and government. We wish to remind

him that Article 12 of our Constitution incorporates a standard of gender equality and non-discrimination on the ground of a person’s sex. Sri Lanka, recognising its contribution in improving the lives of women by giving equal access to health and education, and desiring further progress, became a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1981. In 1993 it adopted a policy statement known as the Women’s Charter and which reinforces the Convention standards on gender equality between men and women. While the Sri Lankan government has binding obligations to implement the Constitution, National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) and CEDAW, it is also bound to implement the more recent Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These require the government to implement and monitor development goals that will contribute to gender equality. These commitments are also central to the core Commonwealth values that have been incorporated in the Declaration of CHOGM.  The President as current Chair of the Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure that these values on gender equality are upheld by his administration.
Minister Karalliyadde in making these remarks seems also unaware of the gender equality programmes done by his own ministry to strengthen the capacity of the many community based women’s groups. They too have been working together with women’s NGOs across the country to carry forward an agenda of achieving gender equality so as to eliminate discrimination against women.   
We have in the past had several women cabinet ministers such as Renuka Herath, the late Srimani Athulathmudali, Amara Piyaseeli Rathnayake, and Sumeda Jayasena who took their role and responsibility as holders of cabinet office seriously. They tried to work towards achieving these standards of gender equality and improve the lives of women and men. Many Sri Lankan men, including professionals and politicians have supported initiatives to achieve gender equality in our society. It is a shocking indication of the breakdown in values of holders of public office, that the first male minister of Women’s Affairs can make public statements which undervalue Sri Lankan women, and abuse and seek to humiliate identified groups of women. The minister’s statements make it abundantly clear that he is unaware of his responsibilities, rejects these values on gender equality in his personal and public life.
We strongly urge the President to call for the immediate resignation of Minister Karalliyadde from the office he holds in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Child Development and appoint a gender sensitive Minister. His gender insensitive statements and behavior indicate that he can no longer be permitted to function as head of a Ministry whose core purpose he undervalues and publicly denounces.

167 Individuals: Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Dr.Wijaya Jayathilaka Dr. Jehan Perera, Prof. Sitralega Maunaguru, Lalitha Disanayake, Former Secretary, Ministry of Women,Dr. Nimalka Fernando, Attorney –at-Law, Kumudini Samuel, Dr. Sepali Kottegoda,  Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe,Dr. Farzana Haniffa, Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, Dr. Leonie Solomons, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Dr. Pushpa Ramlani, Dr. R. Cheran, Dr. Ramani Jayasundere, Attorney –at-Law, Dr. Selvi Thiruchandran, Dr. Vagisha Gunasekara, Dr. Vivimarie V. Medawattegedera, Dr. Zulfika Ismail – Canada, Dr. Shermal Wijewardene, Dr.Subangi Herath, Britto Fernando, Buddhadasa Galappatty, Poet/Journalist, Aaranya Rajasingam, Carmen Wickramagamage, University of Peradeniya, Abeetha  – Social worker, Ahilan Kadirgamar, Amal de Chickera, Ameena Hussein, Anberiya Hanifa, Shamila Daluwatte, Attorney –at-Law, Shanthini Kongahage, Sharadha de Saram, Sharmini Boyle, Sharni Jayawardena, Sherine Xavier, Shiranee Dissanayake, Shreen Abdul Saroor, Shreen Saroor, Shyamala Gomez, Shyamala Sivagurunathan, Andrew Samuel, Anoma De Alwis ,Anoma Janadari, Anomaa  Rajakaruna, Anupama Ranawana, University of Aberdeen/Newman Theological Seminary, Anushaya Collure, B. Gowthaman, B. Skanthakumar, Buddhima Padmasiri, Buhary Mohamed – Human Rights Activist, C. De Silva, Journalist, , Caryll Tozer, Cayathiri D.,  Chandra Jayaratna,Chamila Thushari, Chamindry Saparamadu, Attorney-at-Law, Chulani Kodikara ,Damaris Wickremesekera, Dhamayanthi Mutukumarage, Dhammika de Silva – Journalist, Rutharuwa Paper, Dharmasena Pathiraja, Dharmasiri Bandaranaike, Dilhara Pathirana, Dilrukshi Hanunnetti, Journalist, Lawyer, Dilshy Banu, Doreen Fernando, Dr. Dhammika Herath, Acadamic, Peace and Development Research, School of Global Studies, Emil van der Poorten, Ethayarani Chiraveil, Fahad Farook, Faizun Zackariya, Fr. Jeyabalan Croos, Fr. Sebamalai, Fr. Terrence Fernando, Freddy Gamage, Gamini Akmeemana, Gamini Viyangoda – Journalist, Gehan Gunatilleke – Attorney-at-Law, Hanna Ibraham – Journalist, Harean Hettiarachchi, Harini Amarasuriya, Inoja Munasinghe, Member of Urban Council , Iromi Perera, J . C Weliamuna – Attorney-at-Law, Jehanki Anandha, Jensila Majeed ,Juwairiya Mohideen, Kandiah Rajaledsumi – Batticaloa, Krishna Velupillai, Kshama Ranawana,  Lakmali Hemachandra, Lakshman Gunasekara, Journalist , Leela Issac, Lionel Bopage, M. D. Mahindapala (Cinematographer), M.A. Sumanthiran, MP – Tamil National Alliance & Attorney-at-Law, Mahendran Thiruvarangan, Mahesh Munasingha (A poet in Canada), Malathi de Alwis, Mano Alles , Mario Gomez, Marisa de Silva, Marisa Fernando, Melani Manel Perera, Miyuru Gunasinghe, Nakaka Disanayaka, Neloufer de Mel, Nilshan Fonseka, Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, Nirmanusan Balasundaram, Oma K. Chunchi, Pathmeranjin-Social worker,Philip Diassanaike , Philip Setunga, Prashanthi Jayasekara, Prashanthi Mahindaratne, Prema Gamage, Priya Thangarajah, Priyanthi Fernando, Prof. Kumar David, R.M.B Senanayake, Rajani Chandra, Ranukathavi- Social worker, Rasika Deepani, Ruki Fernando, Sachini Perera, Safeeka – women’s network coordinator, Samanmalie Hettiarchchi,Sampath Pushpakumara – Attorney-at-Law, Samsath Begam-women’s network Coordinator, Sanjana Hattotuwa, Sarala Emmanuel, Satha – Social worker, Seetha Ranjanee, Journalist, Shalini Wickramasuriya, Siritunga Jayasuriya – United Socialist Party, Sr. Deepa Fernando, Stella Phillip, Stephanie Gonawela, Subha Wijesiriwardena, Sudarhsna Gunawardhana, Attorney –at-Law, Sulochana Colombage, Sunanda Deshapriya, Sunethra Bandaranaike, Sunil  Wijesiriwrdene, Tamara de Silva, Tehani Ariyaratne, Thiruni Kelegama, Thushari Madahapola, Udeni Thewarapperuma,Attorney –at-Law , Uma Rajamantri, Vanamali Galappatti, Vanni Simon, Velayudan  Jayachithra, Velusamy Weerasingham, Violet Perera, Visakha Tillekeratne, W. Jayasiri, Wasaam Ismail, Yasasmin Kaviratne, Sis. Angela, Sis. Christeen, Audrey Rubera, Padma Wakwella, Scolastica
33 Organizations: Affected Women’s Forum (Akkaraipattu), Centre for People’s Dialogue, Centre for Policy Alternative, Community Education Center, Malabe, Dabindu Collective, Katunayaka, Eastern Social Development Foundation, Eastern United Women’s Organization, Family Organization for the Disappeared, Free Media Movement, Govi Thorathuru Centre, Human Development Centre, Kandy, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre , International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES), International Movement against All forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) , Janaawabodaya (Negambo), Mannar Women’s Development Federation , Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Mullaitheevu Women’s Development and Rehabilitation Federation, Muslim Women’s Development Trust (Puttalum), Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum, National  Fisheries Solidarity Movement, National Peace Council, Peoples Centre for Dialogue, Right to Life, Rights Now Collective for Democracy, Shama Shakthi Savidanaya , Sri Lanka Women’s NGO Forum, Voluntary Service Development Organisation for Women (Trincomalee), Women Action for Independent Development – WOMENAID network, Women and Media Collective (WMC) , Women’s Development Centre( Badulla), Women Education and Research Center, Women’s Action Network, Women’s Centre, Ja-Ela,Women’s Political Academy Sri Lanka.


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