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Will Logarani Be the Last Victim of Violence Against Women

Will Logarani Be the Last Victim of Violence Against Women

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Oct 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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- on 10/24/2013
All photographs by the author, or sent it by the author.
Around 5pm on 17 October 2013,within the Jaffna municipality, one of our friends (a male youth resident of  Jaffna) came to our home (a few friends were gathered there) looking verydisturbed. We were surprised to see him again, as he was with us sinceafternoon and had just left a little while ago. After seating himself on achair, he spoke, “
 A female dead body, without cloths, has been found near Naachimar Amma Kovil. I saw it. The sight of it made me sick. There were afew other people looking at it. Chiiiii (he sighed)” 
. It took a good minute forall of us to comprehend and the first among us to speak. We began toquestion our friend who brought the news –
has the police arrived? Is shetotally naked? Could it be rape and murder? Can you recognise her face”?
Indeed, he did not have clear answers. He kept repeating, “
I don’t think the police have arrived. Someone was calling the police” 
. Anothermale friend asked, “
shall we go and make sure that the police arrive” 
. Fiveof us (two women and three men), went to the location. The body wasfound because of the bad odour emanating from it, as it had starteddecomposing. Because of this, within an hour of it being found, there wereabout 100 people, mostly men and small boys, trying to view the woman’sdead body. All were intrigued to see the cloth-less female body – despite
the fact that it was brutality violated.I first saw the bottom part of her dead body. Her legs were spread wideapart. The right leg was bent and looked badly hurt. Significant signs of being broken. Her skirt was not covering what it usually covers. It was rolledup to her stomach. There were no panties on the body. Her external genitalswere disfigured. They were brutally violated. Her head was damaged to anextent that nobody could identify her from her face. A few in the crowdsaid,“
 Acid must have been used to destroy her face” 
. Apparently, she wasmurdered about 3-4 days back. The location where the dead body was found raises many questions. Forinstance, why one of the famous Hindu temples on the very popular K.K.SRoad (Kangkesanthurai Road), was it because theabusers/rapists/murderers wanted to show that no matter what they do,they cannot be caught or punished, or even the audacity to throw the bodyin a sacred place according to one of the main religious beliefs in thedistrict/country, and the challenge to the rule of law (perhaps the absenceof it) in the country. While I recognise such complexities and the need tocritically unfold these questions, I’d rather like remain focused and limit thescope of this reflective article.It was disturbing tosee that for manyit was just another“interesting” sight.Almost all of themtook photos of theruthlessly violatedfemale body. Somerecorded videos of the sight. Most of them did not wantto leave the sight. Iwondered, whatfor? Not all of themwere part of themedia. Perhaps,they wanted toinform many morethrough differentforms of social media. One could hope that they needed visuals of suchbrutality in order to raise awareness and stop such unpleasant experiencesin the future. However, that hope was instantly shattered when, moredisturbingly, many started to criticise “women” in general for havingtriggered such an extent of violence against themselves by not being“proper” women. I’m not going into the details of explaining the expression
“proper” women. Sadly, our society is still blaming women for havinginvited the violence that they are subjected to. Time after time, women arethe subject of unhealthy criticisms and any illness of our societies. Femalebodies are repeatedly violated. Yet again, they are to be blamed. When dowe change? There are many issues to be addressed in the post-war context of Sri Lanka.For instance, access to justice, reconciliation, peacebuilding, sex work,different forms of discriminations, militarisation, poverty, being subjected toviolence due to apparent vulnerabilities, challenges faced by ex-militantsand female headed households, political knowledge and representation,and gender based violence. The list could go on. We must not forget thatour societies have to deal with the scars of more than three decades longviolent conflict, discriminations, and destructions of lives, properties, andresources. Learning/s from other parts of the world that had/have similarcontexts clearly depicts that it is not easy. Civic driven actions or thecontribution of an active (inclusive) civil society becomes essential. Theway in which, as citizens we demand the state to be accountable andresponsible in the wellbeing of all its’ citizens without any discriminatorytreatment and/or practice, we, the civil society and the members of allsocieties, have the equal amount of responsibility to build a healthy, equal,and violence free societies.Violence against women is not novel in Sri Lanka. It is not a new threat toour societies. However, what is actually unprecedented are the forms of violence, extent of brutality showed in each case of violence, and the sheertolerance and justification of this kind of violence. According to myknowledge and experience, since 1980s, activists have fought at multipleplatforms to address the issues related to violence against women. Therehave been several campaigns and development programmes that rangedbetween awareness creation to ending violence against women (like theWeCan campaign). It is very sad that despite all efforts invested by manyactors, both state and non-state, women are still subjected to violence. Itappears to have become a norm. The Jaffna experience shows that eventhe basic sensitization on the issues of violence against women has notreached people of all walks of life. Yet another attempt to address the injustice experienced by LogaraniMarkandu (42 year old unmarried female who was residing at a convent inColumbuthurai, Jaffna), the victim who was murdered, a group of us (mostof us had witnessed her dead body) women and men (mostly youth),decided to show our respects to Logarani and condemn such incidents inour societies. Overnight, we mobilized to express our concerns at the sameplace where Logarani’s body was found. We were certain that the mediumthat we choose to express has some unique and novel aspects that stronglyconvey our messages. We also wanted to attract the attention of as manypeople as possible and hoped that our efforts are continued, not only by us,

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