Intent to Destroy: Ongoing Violence and Violations Against Tamil Women

By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), Tuesday, February 25 2014
Executive Summary

Women’s bodies have historically been a secondary battlefield in the theater of war, a space where victors claim their spoils and nations plant their flag. In Sri Lanka post-2009, Tamil women’s bodies in the North and East have become both the site of a violent Sinhalisation[i] process and their only means of survival in a militarized environment. Direct interviews and a compilation of secondary sources reveal that in the period from 2008-2013 women lost their reproductive rights, were forced into coercive sexual relationships or marriages, and faced the constant threat of rape, even as they desperately tried to escape the island. These acts collectively highlight the structural violence that marginalizes Tamil women and subjugates Tamil society. Due to the cultural positioning of Tamil women, these acts go far beyond the immediate physical and psychological damage to the individual woman, they also serve to humiliate Tamil men and reinforce Tamil powerlessness.[ii] Violations against Tamil women are a powerful symbolic display of the domination of the Sinhala Buddhist state and majority; they are one of the myriad ways by which the state seeks to destroy the essential foundations of the life of the Tamil people.[iii]

[ This paper was jointly submitted by NGOs TAG and The Society For Threatened Peoples (  http://www.gfbv.de/index.php?change_lang=english)  to the UN Human Rights Council 25th Session. You may read it here http://www.tamilsagainstgenocide.org/Data/Docs/GBV-MINI-FINAL-FEB-11-5.pdf ]
[i] Sinhalisation has been described as the process by which a Buddhist-Nationalist State enforces authority and control of Tamil areas and Tamil peoples. “President Rajapaksa has stated that these areas should not now be described as “Tamil areas”: the government’s intention appears to be to dilute the Tamil population of those areas by SinhalisationGJ and Others (post-civil war: returnees) Sri Lanka CG [2013] UKUT 00319 (IAC) Para 329 (GJ), http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/51da951c4.pdf
[ii] The Film, “A Measure of Impunity” (2011), examines the cultural positioning of women in Northern India, and the aftermath of rape by Indian State Forces.
Of note, Tamil men too are the victims of sexual violence at the hands of state officials. See BBC Documentary “Sri Lanka’s unfinished War” http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x16z8t2_sri-lanka-s-unfinished-war-by-bbc-aired-on-20-30gmt-8th-november-2013_news
[iii] “..Tamils cannot call themselves pure Tamils anymore. Our army’s Sinhalese blood is in Tamils.” Major General Hathurusinghe, SL Army in Jan2014. http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=9698
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