There are several women's organizations in Sri Lanka. Among the largest and most active is the Centre for Women's Research (CENWOR) in Colombo, which undertakes and promotes research on women's issues. Local NGOs tend to be service-oriented and reportedly have done much to promote women's rights and awareness of women's issues, but they operate in a climate of violence and intimidation that prevents them from taking political stands on issues affecting women (Goonesekera 1992, 121-22; Law and Society Trust Review 16 Jan. 1991, 5; The Thatched Patio May-June 1990, 31). The Women Lawyers Association and other NGOs, through their legal-aid clinics, have attempted to raise awareness about legal matters related to marital and domestic violence (Goonesekera 1992, 123). There are two community shelters for abused women in Sri Lanka, both of which provide counselling on women's options. These shelters have been credited for increasing the number of successful convictions in cases involving violence against women (Coomaraswamy 1992, 55-56), but, as one source comments, without a change in legal and social structures, legal awareness alone will not result in equal treatment (Goonesekera 1992, 133). The government has established reception centres for children who are victims of family violence, but similar institutions for battered women do not exist (ibid. 1990, 176-77; Los Angeles Times 23 Feb. 1993). Although the constitution of Sri Lanka grants every citizen the right to reside in and move freely anywhere in Sri Lanka (Country Reports 1992 1993, 1180), opinion on the internal flight alternatives available to people in the northern province remains divided; recent information indicates that internal flight alternatives are limited, especially for young women. An Anglican Church of Canada representative stated that travel to and from the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka is restricted, travellers to these areas must pass through several check points, and night travel is not permitted. He further stated that people travelling from the north require an LTTE travel permit and women under 25 years of age are not allowed to leave Jaffna (Anglican Church of Canada 18 June 1993). LTTE ranks reportedly include young women between 14 and 16 years of age, who, although not forcibly conscripted, joined under the influence of peer pressure and LTTE propaganda that a military struggle is the only solution to the problem of a separate Tamil homeland (ibid.). According to Malcolm Rodgers of the British Refugee Council's Sri Lanka Project in London,it is extremely difficult for Jaffna women, especially young women, to be relocated in other parts of Sri Lanka and a flight alternative is virtually absent in the current circumstances. The Sri Lankan security forces are targeting women after LTTE women units carried out a number of military operations in the North-East. In the recent roundups in Colombo and the suburbs many women have been arrested, some of them at night. There have also been fundamental rights cases before the Court of Appeal by Tamil women alleging torture in custody (Rodgers 13 July 1993). For more information on internal flight alternatives, consult the December 1992 DIRB Question and Answer paper entitled Sri Lanka: Internal Flight Alternatives .
Sources indicate that most child prostitution is connected to "sex tourism," an industry catering primarily to Europeans, North Americans and other westerners who travel to Sri Lanka specifically for purposes of sex. Sri Lanka, along with Thailand and the Philippines, is reportedly regarded as an "international center" for prostitution and pedophilia (Inter Press Service 10 Dec. 1991; Star Tribune 21 Nov. 1993). Many of these tourists are regular visitors who reportedly prefer Sri Lanka precisely because child prostitutes are so readily available (ibid.; Inter Press Service 10 Dec. 1991). According to Bandarage, Sri Lankan newspapers regularly publish "information on package sex tours and the range of prostitutes available in the country" (Bandarage 25-27 May 1988, 162). As well, sources indicate that Sri Lanka is popular with western "marriage bureaus," firms that specialize in supplying western men with Third World and eastern European wives. Reportedly there are 60 such agencies in Germany, with annual revenues totalling $25 million (Star Tribune 21 Nov. 1993). Bandarage states that women forced to marry Japanese farmers are often put to work in the fields, while women exported to western countries sometimes end up as "servants" or are "turned into the prostitution or pornography business" (Bandarage 25-27 May 1988, 162-63).
Sinhala Plant names - Ethnobotany - Dh Web
Large numbers of Sri Lankan women of all ethnic and religious groups, most between the ages of 18 and 45, are employed as domestics in the Middle East. Many of these women are taken advantage of by Bangladeshi employment agents, some of whom charge as much as 40,000 rupees (US$4000)--almost 15 times what the law permits--for their services (Reuters 24 Apr. 1990). Furthermore, since good health and childlessness are prerequisites for employment in the Middle East, many women are subjected to humiliating and potentially dangerous medical procedures and drugs. According to one source,women are medically examined and immunized against various diseases before their departure. Many women are also injected with the controversial hormonal contraceptive Depo Provera, often without their knowledge or consent. Some women think they are being given a routine vaccination; they do not know the side effects of Depo Provera or that it has been banned in the U.S. ... (Bandarage 25-27 May 1988, 160-61). The abuse does not end when the women arrive in the Middle East. Many more are abused by their Middle Eastern employers, including being forced to work 12- to 15-hour days (Reuters 27 June 1990; Chicago Tribune 21 Mar. 1993) or refused the agreed upon wages (Bandarage 25-27 May 1988, 160-61), to outright physical, psychological and sexual abuse. For example, one Sri Lankan housemaid was "beaten and burned with a cigarette and had her hair cut off" by her Kuwaiti employer (USA Today 21 Feb. 1992), while in another case an angry Kuwaiti employer reportedly dragged a woman by her hair out of the Sri Lankan embassy compound as two Kuwaiti policemen "turned their backs" (ibid.). Many domestic workers are sexually assaulted by their employers (ibid.; Inter Press Service 10 Apr. 1990; Reuters 24 Apr. 1990; Chicago Tribune 21 Mar. 1993). In February 1992 as many as six cases of sexual assault were being reported to the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuwait each day (USA Today 21 Feb. 1992) and some 69 women were in "hiding" in the embassy, with up to eight more arriving each day. One source, quoting the Sri Lankan labour secretary, states that some domestics working in the Middle East end up in such desperate circumstances that they must "turn to prostitution to survive" (Reuters 27 June 1990). Sri Lankan officials have taken tentative steps to address the problems of women contracted to overseas employers. In April 1990 the Sri Lankan government announced that it had "adopted safeguards" and would place "strict controls" on domestic servants working abroad. These measures included requiring a domestic working abroad to have a contract "spelling out wages and other terms and conditions of employment," and requiring employers to pay three months wages as a deposit (Reuters 24 Apr. 1990). As well, some of Sri Lanka's embassies were to have "female labour attachés" to whom women could take their complaints (ibid.). It is not clear to what extent these steps were implemented. In June 1990 the labour secretary, after visiting Kuwait to assess conditions for himself, announced that his department would no longer approve any employment contracts for Kuwait (ibid. 27 June 1990). The Bureau of Foreign Employment, which "monitors, inspects and investigates" complaints against Sri Lanka's approximately 250 licensed private employment agencies, reportedly withdrew the licences of 10 labour-recruiting firms in 1992 (Inter Press Service 10 Apr. 1993). In the case of one domestic servant who was reportedly "locked in a room and repeatedly raped" by her Kuwaiti employer, Sri Lankan diplomats took the "unusual step" of bringing the case to court while giving the woman asylum in the embassy (Chicago Tribune 21 Mar. 1993).