Tuesday, 23 September 2014
Home Tamil Affairs International Affairs Editorial Opinion Feature Culture & Community Interviews
Latest Entries:
Plight of Sri Lanka's war widows
Saroj Pathirana BBC Sinhala 24 December 2008 Print ArticleE-mail ArticleFeedback On Article
   

"My husband was a fisherman. About three years ago, when he returned from a fishing trip, somebody checked his identity card and shot him dead," says Jeyarulai Puwanendran, weeping.

 

The single mother, 23, is a resident of Kiran, Batticaloa, in Sri Lanka's eastern region.

 

"I have a four-year-old daughter. I don't get help from the government or anybody else. My parents are the ones who look after me and my daughter. My father is a labourer. They have six other children apart from me," she says.

 

Ms Puwanendran is among an estimated 33,000 women who have been widowed in Eastern Province during nearly three decades of war between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers.

 

Similar stories can be heard all over the east. The case of 30-year-old Vadivel Shanthi, a mother of three young children in a camp for displaced people in Batticaloa, is typical.

 

Her family left their home in Trincomalee district after her husband, a farmer, was shot dead by unidentified people.

 

"One day my husband went to the paddy field but did not return. After seven days his decomposed body was found in a paddy field. I was left with no option other than to hand over two of our children to an orphanage," she says.

 

Women's rights activists argue that widows are still suffering despite the government recapturing the east from the Tamil Tigers more than a year ago.

 

Visaka Dharmadasa, of the Association of War Affected Women (AWAW) recently visited the region.

 

She says that fear still prevails in the region and killings continue despite government claims that the area is safer now.

 

The husband of 24-year-old mother Karthiga, Selvaratnam Ramesh, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at their home in Valaichchenai, Batticaloa, on 27 November.

 

"It was about 7.30pm in the evening. I was at home with my husband. Suddenly I heard a sound like a cracker exploding. When I looked at my husband, he was on the floor with gun wounds," she said.

 

"My husband was a mason. We did not have a penny when he was killed. I have a seven-year-old daughter and I am now seven months pregnant. I don't know how to get on with my life," she says.

 

Although the government has identified the problem, activists say it lacks the commitment to help these women to rebuild their lives.

 

A spokeswoman for the chief minister of Eastern Province is reported to have told the AWAW that while the provincial council recognises the urgency it does not have funds to implement projects to help it.

 

"She expressed serious disappointment that no money was allocated, though many projects are planned to uplift the lives of these women," said AWAW spokeswoman Visaka Dharmadasa.

 

The government, however, sees things differently.

 

According to Nation Building Minister Susantha Punchinilame, action is being taken to help widows, the overwhelming majority of whom are under 30.

 

Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is a senior adviser to the president on a plan to provide more assistance to the bereaved women in the east.

 

"Actually this problem was only recently highlighted and we are currently conducting a study on the situation and the figures relating to widows," he says.

 

"The authorities are committed to helping thousands of widows," Mr Rajapaksa says.

 

"We are working to help them find opportunities for self-employment, foreign jobs and jobs in the livestock and agricultural sector."

 

Mr Rajapaksa insists that the government is co-ordinating with the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) on development work.

 

"This year, for example, the EPC approved the biggest development budget from the money offered by the government and the foreign donations transferred through the government," he says.

 

Mr Rajapaksa says he hopes that the provincial authority will receive more funds as the EPC re-establishes a financial and tax system in the area and many currently defunct industries restart work.

 

But critics such as Ms Dharmadasa argue that there are few positive developments in recent months for widows in the east.

 

Widows are seriously affected by the war, she says, and are left to cope without official help.
 
Share on Facebook Print ArticlePrint Article E-mail ArticleE-mail Article Feedback On ArticleFeedback On Article
 
 
HIGHLIGHTS
  Tamil Affairs
Tamil Guardian 23 September 2014
Australia would have breached refugee convention if Tamils detained at sea deported says UN

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Australia would have breached the UN refugee convention if it had deported over 150 asylum seekers detained at sea, [more]

Tamil Guardian 23 September 2014
China to strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka

China is to strengthen military ties with Sri Lanka, announced the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, Xu Qiliang, following a meeting with Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday, reports Xinhua. [more]

Tamil Guardian 23 September 2014
Sajith Premadasa appointed UNP deputy leader
Sajith Premadasa with UNP leader Ranil at party conference September 6th. Photograph Colombo Page Sajith Premadasa has been formally appointed as the leader of the United National Party (UNP), [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
Recognise Tamil right to self-determination, Tamils tell Labour Party

Tamils for Labour have called on the British Labour Party to acknowledge the Tamil people's right to self-determination.

Addressing the annual Labour Party Conference on Monday, [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
Tamils protest against military land grabs in Puthukkudiyiruppu
Tamils in Puthukkudiyiruppu protested against land grabs by the Sri Lankan security forces on Monday, reports Uthayan. [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
Govt launches website to counter international criticism ahead of UNGA

The Sri Lankan president’s office has launched a new website this month in an attempt to counter international criticism of Sri Lanka over allegations of mass atrocities committed by state forces at the end of the armed conflict, [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
Sri Lanka wants UN to investigate.. use of armed drones in counter terrorism

Addressing a panel discussion at the UN Human Rights Council Monday, Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to Geneva called for an investigation into the use of armed drones to ensure it is in line with international human rights and humanitarian law.

“Sri Lanka is therefore greatly concerned about the increasing use of remotely piloted aircrafts or armed drones in counter terrorism operations, [more]

Tamil Guardian 22 September 2014
Sri Lanka arrests 7 Indian nationals in Kalmunai

Seven Indian nationals were arrested at the weekend, for alleged visa and trade violations in Kalmunai in the Eastern province, reports Daily Mirror. [more]


Print Editions

 
 

Contact Tamil Guardian
www.tamilguardian.com