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 Post subject: Raped girl denied schooling in Ahangama, Galle
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:08 pm 
Raped girl denied schooling in Ahangama, Galle

Iresha Sandamali Ariyaratne is a 15-year-old student of Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya in Ahangama, Galle. On 29 December 2006, at around 9:30am, two men raped her in a a secluded guest house. The case is now before the court. Tragically due to the rape incident, Iresha has been denied her right to education by the Principal of her school Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya.

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12 June, 2007
@ BBC Sinhala


Education authorities in Sri Lanka have denied the right of a girl to education after she was raped, a rights watchdog said.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said the principal of a school in Galle has refused to allow the victim to resume her education in the school.

“The Principal has stated that the girl denied entry because she is now a disgrace and a bad example to the other students,” a statement issued by the watchdog said.

Rape video recorded

Nadin Ishan Chandika, a resident in Ahangama, is accused of raping the 15-year old girl on 29 December 2006, according to the AHRC.

Nadin and his friend, Nuwan “recorded her semi-clothed body on their mobile phones. When the girl refused to cooperate, they put a knife to her chin and threatened her,” the statement added.

A video-recording of the rape was rumoured to be circulating in the village.

After the incident was reported to the police and court proceedings began, Principal of Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya had refused the girl to return to the school.

The victim, who is due to sit for the GCE O/L exams in December this year, is yet to be allowed to continue her studies despite repeated requests by her parents, according to the Rights watchdog.


The AHRC CASE DETAILS:

Iresha Sandamali Ariyaratne is a 15-year-old student of Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya in Ahangama, Galle District, Southern Range, Sri Lanka. On 29 December 2006, at around 9:30am, two men approached her on a blue three-wheeler, one of whom she recognised and was known to live behind the Ahangama railway station, named Nadin Ishan Chandika.

Nadin and his friend Nuwan forced her onto the vehicle and took her to a secluded guest house (’Thammannawa’). Nadin performed rape on Iresha despite her pleas of resistance. Later, Nuwan came into the room and said that it was his turn. Iresha continued to resist and she fought Nuwan in retaliation.

The two men harassed and humiliated Iresha further. They recorded her semi-clothed body on their mobile phones. When Iresha refused to cooperate, they put a knife to her chin and threatened her.

Eventually, the men took her back on the three-wheeler and dropped her off at Weliwatte Road.

Soon, the incident was known throughout her neighbourhood. A video-recording of Iresha’s rape was rumoured to be circulating.

On 3 May 2007, Iresha’s father decided to go to the police. As per procedure, Iresha and her father accompanied the Police Officer-in-Charge (OIC) to the guest house which was the scene of the rape. The OIC observed in the report that Iresha was raped nine times by Nadin. The OIC was unsympathetic and unprofessional as he asked if it had been Iresha’s ninth time with one man.

According to the usual procedures, Iresha was admitted to hospital and examined by the Judicial Medical Officer, the psychologist, and underwent various other tests. She was also to be examined by the hospital’s venereal diseases clinic.

Subsequently, the two suspects surrendered themselves to the police and were granted bail. The case is now before the court.

However, tragically due to the rape incident, Iresha has been denied her right to education by the Principal of her school Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya. On 15 May 2007, Iresha stated that the Principal had refused Iresha to return to the school, telling Iresha that she was a disgrace and a bad example to the other students due to the incident.

On 17 May 2007, the rape case was called into the Magistrates court in Galle. On that day, the Probation Office spoke with the Principal by phone, and the Principal asked for Iresha to come to the school to see her the next day. On 18 May 2007, Iresha went with her father to see the Principal. The Principal sent a message through the School Watcher for them to come the next Wednesday. On 23 May 2007, Iresha again together with her father arrived at the school. The Principal then asked them to come back after 12pm. Accordingly, on that day after 12pm, Iresha and her father returned to meet with the Principal.

The Principal subsequently stated to them that she had not been informed in writing by any party to reinstate Iresha back into the school, and that she would not do so. Iresha reminded her that the Probation office spoke to her on the phone. The Principal then told her that she would not give any merit to an oral notice by telephone.

Iresha and her father reported the events of this meeting to the Probation Office. The Probation Office then gave a letter to be submitted to the school Principal. The next day, on 24 May 2007, Iresha’s father delivered the letter to the Principal. However, she still refused to allow Iresha to return to school. Iresha’s father once again went to the Probation Office and informed them of this outcome.

To date, Iresha has not been able to go back to school. She is due to sit for her Ordinary Level examination in December 2007. Iresha has said that due to this incident, she has missed many classes and it will be extremely difficult for her to catch up on the syllabus.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The social stigma surrounding victims of rape in Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia is unfair and counteractive to the effective prosecution of the perpetrators of rape. Instead of targeting the offender who performs the crime, this kind of social and legal attitude places the blame on the victim. The AHRC has documented a similar case of a 14-year-old girl in Galagedara, Sri Lanka (UA-150-2005).

The actions of the police in Iresha’s case demonstrated the insensitive and blasé attitude of those involved in the prosecution process to find and persecute appropriately the guilty parties. Instead, the Police Officer derides and dismisses the suffering of the victim.

Rape victims who report the crime must go through arduous physical and psychological examination, and are not offered counseling or support.

The culture in Sri Lanka does not allow rape to be recognised as a serious crime committed against an innocent victim, and as a result, rape victims are rarely able to find redress. It is true that in the Sri Lankan Penal Code amended in 1995, Section 363 criminalizes rape, and Section 364 specifies the terms of imprisonment and an order of compensation against convicted rapists. However, according to the statistics reported by the OMCT in Violence against Women in Sri Lanka 2002, out of 229 incidents of rape committed against girls below the age of 17 in 1998, only 12 reports of sentences had been recorded, 6 indictments were pending before the High Courts, 6 were before the District Courts, and the Magistrates Courts were inquiring into a further 152 complaints. Although sentences that were actually administered conformed with the Penal Code, these statistics show that there are still serious problems and delays in the prosecution process in rape cases.

It is within this kind of cultural system that Iresha has been denied the right to education by her school principal. The stigma against victims of rape should be reversed, and they should not under any circumstances be subjected this kind of social discrimination which treads upon their fundamental rights.

The Sri Lankan government should preserve Iresha’s right to education, as Sri Lanka has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child on 21 July 1991. Article 28 provides: “States Parties [should] recognize the right of the child to education and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity”.

The right to education has also been incorporated into their domestic law in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Article 27(2) (h) states an objective of the State is “the complete eradication of illiteracy and the assurance to all persons of the right to universal and equal access to education at all levels.”

Other than the legal basis for Iresha’s right to education in Sri Lanka, the State is also responsible to the moral obligation to fulfill her right. The stigma and unfair treatment of rape victims must be put to a stop. As a responsible educator, Iresha’s principal has to adhere to a moral code of ethics to protect and promote the physical and psychological well-being of her students. Her discriminatory and cruelly insensitive attitude is a gross violation of her duties.

Additionally, Article 27(5) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka provides that: “The State shall strengthen national unity by promoting co-operation and mutual confidence among all sections of the People of Sri Lanka, including the racial, religious, linguistic and other groups, and shall, take effective steps in the fields of teaching, education and information in order to eliminate discrimination and prejudice.” The Principal of Anula Devi Balika Vidyalaya, in the field of teaching and education, has an obligation under the Constitution to oppose and diminish discrimination of all kinds among the people of Sri Lanka. Her own explicit act of discrimination against Iresha is a violation of this obligation.


http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2007/2431/


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