More than one-third of female homicides in Sri Lanka are related to intimate partner violence, and 69% of such incidences go unreported, a study revealed today.The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) UNFPA conducted the first study of its kind in Sri Lanka to understand the contributory factors of unnatural deaths from a gender perspective. Conducted with the University of Kelaniya, the study focused on unnatural female deaths in five provinces in the country. An ‘unnatural death’ is said to occur as a result of external causes such as injury, trauma or poisoning where the manner or circumstance could be homicidal, suicidal or accidental, or at times even not determined. Speaking at the event, Ms. Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Country Representative stated: “Gender-based violence is not only a violation of individual women’s and girls’ rights. The impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, and the fear generated by their actions, has an effect on the entire society. Despite the extensive work done by the government, women’s organizations, the UN and other partners, victims of violence often lack access to essential services that support their safety, health and access to justice.”According to the study, more than one-third of female homicides in Sri Lanka are related to intimate partner violence, and 69% of such incidences go unreported. Findings also revealed that physical trauma is the leading cause for hospitalization in Sri Lanka. To mark International Women’s Day in Sri Lanka and to launch the brief report of the findings, UNFPA together with the University of Kelaniya convened a panel discussion in Colombo; with the presence of Ms. Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Representative in Sri Lanka. The panel discussion was chaired by Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe – Professor of the Department of English, University of Kelaniya; Prof. Anurudhdhi Edirisinghe – Principle investigator and Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of Kelaniya; leading the research; Dr. Subhangi Herath – Senior Lecturer of the Department of Sociology, University of Colombo and Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Professor of Law, Emeritus, University of Colombo. Out of the 243 homicides reviewed in the study, 128 of the cases identified the perpetrator as the legal husband. At the end of the 3-year study, it was found that only 30% of the homicide cases had reached the High Court; while the average time period for conclusion of cases is 3 years from the time a case is filed.In light of this, the study aims to describe the problems associated with the judicial processes and outcomes relating to unnatural female deaths. It further aims to provide policy inputs and guidelines to address problems associated with the investigation and judicial processes relating to the issue.At the panel discussion, UNFPA also presented a policy brief on the ‘Reportage of Unnatural Deaths of Women and Girls in Sri Lankan Newspapers’. The policy brief explored ways in which media reportage of the issue breach ethical guidelines on reportage; highlighting the importance of sensitive and responsible reportage by the media. (Colombo Gazette)
Just back from a weeklong fact-finding mission in Nepal, Dennis McNamara, Director of the UN’s Internal Displacement Division, told a press briefing in New York that “best guesstimates” put the displacement figure somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people over the past few years of the near decade-long Maoist uprising. Perhaps 1 or 2 million Nepalese had crossed the un-patrolled boards into India.Explaining that it was notoriously difficult to get hard data on displacement, Mr. McNamara described the deteriorating and chaotic situation on the ground that had drawn the UN’s concern: along with sporadic and deadly violence in rural areas and along India’s border, Nepal also faced huge seasonal population migrations to and from India, driven by the search for employment or better livelihoods in urban areas.”In all that, it’s difficult to measure precisely who’s been displaced by what, but this is certainly an increasing humanitarian concern. And even in somewhat of a pre-crisis stage, we haven’t been able to get a handle on what we at the UN can do about it,” he said, pointing out the difference between the displacement situation in Nepal and that of Sudan, Somalia, Liberia or Colombia.His trip followed the signing last week of an agreement by the UN’s Geneva-based human rights office and the Government to set up a monitoring operation to prevent human rights abuses in the conflict.Mr. McNamara said that much of the displacement had been sparked by acts of violence or threats, forced recruitment by the Maoists, fear of reprisals by the army, grinding poverty and a general climate of insecurity, particularly in rural areas. He added that large numbers of youth had fled forced conscription – some villages estimate that between 60 and 80 per cent of their young people run off.During his visit as part of a UN team headed by Walter Kalin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, he had met with Government officials, representatives of the Royal Nepalese Army, civic actors and representatives of the internally displaced communities. He also visited areas along Indian border where he had seen some of the victims of the conflict.The overall human rights situation was “extremely serious,” he said, describing arbitrary arrests, mass abductions and a sharp rise in child trafficking inside Nepal and across the Indian border. There was no functioning civil administration or justice system, he said, and noted that both Nepal and the Maoist opposition carried out their own justice arrangements, which were largely unaccountable.While the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other agencies were stepping up their efforts on the humanitarian side – re-orienting their initiatives from development to humanitarian activities – he urged donor governments to also shift their support for that purpose. Donors must also put more pressure on the Government to do more to protect civilians and IDPs, particularly by providing basic health care, sanitation and other services.In all this, Mr. McNamara stressed, humanitarian action should not become a substitute for real sustained political action facilitated by the UN and key governments to try to get a resolution of the long-term conflict, which was, as usual, severely affecting civilians, women and children and displaced.