Saturday, 30 May 2015
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 30 May 2015
Sri Lanka will not meet Tamil demands unless forced says CV Wigneswaran
The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province CV Wigneswaran said that Sri Lanka would have to be forced to meet Tamil demands. Accusing the Sri Lankan government of not “having the will” to meet Tamil demands, [more]

Tamil Guardian 30 May 2015
‘Continued occupation’ of Tamil homeland says DMK chief

The leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) M Karunanidhi said that the Tamil homeland continues to be occupied by Sri Lankan troops despite the change of government on the island earlier this year. [more]

Tamil Guardian 30 May 2015
EPDP rejects allegations of link to Vithiya murder
The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) general secretary Douglas Devananda denied allegations that his party was connected to the rape and murder of a school girl in Punkuduthivu. [more]

Tamil Guardian 30 May 2015
Buddhist and military ceremony held for Maj Gen Dias

Accused Sri Lankan war criminal Major General Jagath Dias, Commander of the Security Force Headquarters in Mullaitivu left his post this month, [more]

Tamil Guardian 30 May 2015
Police accused of negligence in Vithiya case

Police in Jaffna have been accused of negligence in the case of murdered schoolgirl S. Vithiya.

Vithiya’s parents attempted to report her missing at the Kurikattuvan police checkpoint but were turned away. [more]

Tamil Guardian 29 May 2015
Tamil parliamentarians warns of further protests in Batticaloa demanding justice for killed social worker
Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians in Batticaloa and Eastern provincial Councillors warned of further demonstrations if those responsible for the shooting of a social worker on Tuesday were not brought to justice. [more]

Tamil Guardian 29 May 2015
British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka visits Jaffna

The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, James Dauris, has made a visit to Jaffna this week.

Mr Dauris met with the chief priest at Nallur Temple and tweeted that they had discussed the “central role of religious leaders in reconciliation.”

#####

In Jaffna, [more]

Tamil Guardian 29 May 2015
Sri Lankan army teaches students and ‘enlightens farmers’ in Kilinochchi

The Sri Lankan military held two workshops in Kilinochchi this month to teach and “enlighten” both Tamil students and farmers about telecommunications and solar power. [more]


Print Editions

 
 

Contact Tamil Guardian
www.tamilguardian.com