Sri Lanka's election monitor, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) warned that hate speech is only a prelude to physical violence, after increased hate speech campaigns against female candidates, especially female Muslim candidates.
“The CaFFE has been calling for a mandatory quota for female candidates since its inception, and we were extremely jubilant of the new laws enforcing this mandate. If immediate action is not taken against these reactionary elements, these laws will have no impact and efforts by numerous groups, for decades, will be for naught,” CaFFE Executive Director Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said.
“During our sessions in the North Western and Eastern Provinces, a number of female candidates, grass roots female activists and community leaders have informed us that there is a systematic campaign to demoralise, dehumanise and discredit female candidates by certain Muslim clerics attached to controversial organisations which are bent on damaging reconciliation and ethnic harmony,” he said.
“The CaFFE has been monitoring Sri Lankan elections since 2008 and in our experience, verbal abuse/hate speech is only a prelude to physical attacks/violence. If female candidates, especially Muslim female candidates, are assaulted or are intimidated, no one except those from political families will come forth to contest in coming elections,” he said.