A Glasgow woman who was raped and assaulted by a hotel worker at a Sri Lankan hotel, Club Bentota Hotel, in 2010 has won a lawsuit against the tour operator, Kuoni. The judgement was handed down at the UK Supreme Court, 11 years after the lawsuit was filed. Kuoni was ordered to pay the compensation.
The woman was attacked by the on-duty hotel employee who lured her into an engineering room after telling her he would show her the back of the reception area at the resort.
Following the judgement, she said, the case “was always about trying to force Kuoni to take account of its failings to protect and support me both before and after the incident”.
She also mentioned the struggle of having excerpts of her counselling sessions being read out in court whist still overcoming her post-traumatic stress disorder. “I only hope that by seeing this through to the end not only will Kuoni finally take action to review its approaches on customer health, safety and support - but that other women and victims of sexual assault will not have to fight as hard as I did for justice," she stressed.
The US State Department's report on Sri Lanka highlights that whilst Sri Lankan law prohibits rape, "enforcement of the law was inconsistent". Women's organisations have consistently highlighted that "police and judiciary responses to rape and domestic violence incidents and cases were inadequate".
In 2016, the International Truth and Justice Project highlighted the systemic use of sexual violence and torture by Sri Lanka's security forces primarily against Tamils. This was again highlighted last year as the ITJP reported that Tamil activists engaged in pursuing justice for those forcibly disappeared had been "abducted, tortured and raped".
According to the ITJP, there have been 178 documented credible cases of torture from 2015-2018, excluding 22 individuals abroad who reported torture following the UN special investigation. Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power in late 2019, at least 5 cases have been documented abroad of abduction, torture and sexual violence of Tamils. The ITJP notes, "this likely represents the tip of the iceberg".
The Supreme Court held in the Glasgow woman's case that the tourism company owed a duty to ensure safety and that customers should be able to enjoy a holiday to a “reasonable standard.” One of her legal representatives, James Riley, welcomed the judgement saying that it “provides clarity to tour operators regarding their legal obligations”. “Vitally it also preserves the rights of holidaymakers and protects them,” he added.
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