Text of a statement by Women Action Network (WAN) Released: 22.01.17 under the heading “Women Action Network Condemns Attacks on Woman Candidates
A woman candidate who was involved in election campaign activities in Wellawaya area of Monaragala District has been admitted to the hospital in a serious condition after she was brutally attacked.In Arayampathy Selvanagar of Eastern Province, a woman candidate’s house and the contents inside were damaged. A woman candidate in Puthukkudiyiruppu area of Mullaitivu District has been physically assaulted, kept locked in a house, and threatened to withdrawthe complaint she made to the Police. Women candidates in Puttalam and other districts have been verbally humiliated by religious leaders and their families and have been subjected to revolting comments. Vulgar comments on women candidates and disgusting opinions on their race and religion are increasingly being shared in social networks and circulated leaflets.
The above mentioned are some of the most recent news reports of violent acts against woman candidates who are contesting in the upcoming local government elections. Apart from these, many incidents of physical and psychological assault on woman candidates that have not been reported to the police or the Election Commission are being reported through women’s organisations and activists. Women are subjected tomore criminal incidents than men during elections, most of which are referred to as violence against women in elections. Such violent incidents can be defined as follows: The threat of harm or harm against women during the election period that are intended to cause confusion or impact on the independent and equal role of women in the electoral process.These include harassment, intimidation, physical harm, coercion, threats and financial pressures. Moreover, they can be made in private places or public places.
Election violence becomes a violent act against women when the time of the incident is related to the electoral circulation (e.g.: planning for elections, preparing for election, election campaign, etc.), and when it is aimed at a woman candidate, voter, election commission member, etc because she is a woman. Thus, all the above incidents fall into both gender-based violence and political violence categories. Such instances are doubly damaging because they harm the individual and undermine a peaceful democracy in Sri Lanka. Women continue to be subjected to subtle, silent, and hidden forms of violence, and as such these violent acts violate their rights and negatively affect the credibility of the election.
In 2016, a 25 percent mandatory quota for women in Sri Lankan local government was passed into law. This creates the possibility of a minimum number of 1,991 women from 341 local councils becominglocally elected members. The mixed electoral system introduced through the Local Authorities Elections Act mandates that 10% of ward nominations and 50% of the proportional list in the nomination paper submitted by a political party or an independent group should be allocated to women. Otherwise the nominationwill be rejected. The number of members elected to 341 local councils, including 24 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 276 Pradeshiya Sabhas, are 8356 members. Although 52 per cent of the total population in Sri Lanka is women, so far, their representation is 5.3 per cent in parliament, 4 per cent in provincial councils, and 1.9 per cent in local councils.
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