Path to reconciliation Women play major role - Dr. Udagama

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By 2017-12-15

Women play a major role in the path to reconciliation during the post-war era as they are strong individuals when taken as a group, says Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL).

She added that unity is the backbone of reconciliation and thus all disparities needed to be set aside. Therefore, women with different experiences and diverse backgrounds are stronger together despite being part of a patriarchic society subject to ill treatment. Also, she pointed out that 20%-21% households are female headed households, thus emphasizing the important role played by women.

Dr. Udagama also noted that post-war issues such as human rights violations, sexual harassments and land disputes can be resolved by adopting inland mechanisms and thus the search for coordinating mechanisms is ultimately not needed.

Presenting her observations at the publication of the Report for building reconciliation between female war victims such as direct war victims, widows of disabled or missing soldiers and other distressed war victims held at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute recently, she expressed that our citizenship is in a weak status and our rights are not presented in stronger means. Against this backdrop Udugama explained the role and duties of the HRCSL.

It is not only their duty to protect violations of human rights but also to protect them and to predicate them. She encouraged the public to come before the Commission without hesitation, emphasizing that being organized would stand a better claim where public issues are unattended and banding together with civil societies would bring forward such issues. Moreover, she stated that the civil society is the strength behind the HRCSL. Udugama also expressed that ignorance regarding one's human rights or the duties of the HRCSL or unawareness about the HRC local office branches is no longer excusable given the high rate of literacy of Sri Lankans.

Speaking at the panel discussion held at the event involving civil servants and few female victims, Ambika Satkunanathan the commissioner of the HRCSL discussed the relationship between reconciliation, human rights and challenges faced. She stated that reconciliation is not an object but a collective process and the national mechanism by the government is to protect the victimized women's rights. Moreover she emphasized the importance of transitional justice and the need to educate all victimized women about the rules, laws of the post-war era. Satkunanathan also stated that the HRCSL can make recommendations to the government about local legal rules and international standards and thus the public needs to be aware of its legal framework, structure, duties and other local offices established in ten other cities around Sri Lanka. The event was co-held with the Rights Now organization.

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