The 'Surakimu Diyani' ('සුරකිමු දියණිය') radio dialogue hosted by the Women's Development Centre (WDC) and the Rajarata Praja Kendraya (RPK) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Sri Lanka) on the occasion of International Girls' Day was broadcast live on Rajarata Sevaya FM today (17).
Many issues related to the girl child who received less attention in the society were discussed and the challenges faced by girls in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, various forms of abuse she is subject to, her menstruation and hygiene, as well as how she suffers from lack of proper Sex Education, were discussed in more detail.
The highlight of the event was the live broadcast of several girls presenting their issues over the phone.
Sheela Rathnayake, Executive Director of the Rajarata Praja Kendraya, joining the panel of experts at the event, said, "The Rajarata Praja Kendraya’s Safe house (Liya Savi Arana) is open to victimized and abused girls, and the shelter is open to all women who are victims of miscarriage." Victims can rebuild their future by joining the Rajarata Praja Kendraya, she noted.
Dr. Pabasari Ginige, a senior lecturer and a Consultant Psychiatrist who joined the radio dialogue via Zoom technology, said, "Girls are being abused because they do not have proper Sex Education, and this is not being revealed because the abuser could be someone they know, or a close relative." Disclosing this truth to a confidant, you can prevent similar harassment and violence that can happen to another person and save another person's life," she emphasised.
The discussion also focused on Child Marriage faced by Rajarata girls, as well as girls all over Sri Lanka, and the adverse effects on their social, mental and health. There was also a discussion about girls who identify themselves as gay, and transgender, living in rural and remote areas not being addressed in the conversation. Misconceptions centring their identities could arise various social crises, the discussion remarked.
Sri Lankan girls will have to spend 52% of their taxes on the purchase of sanitary napkins during menstruation, Kaushal Ranasinghe, moderator of the event, a human rights activist and journalist disclosed, adding that her failure to use proper hygiene practices and the fact that the community is unaware of this raise the need for a system to empower children with proper knowledge about it.
Anuradhapura District Child Rights Promotion Officer R.M Chaminda Nimalaweera, Anuradhapura District Women Development Officer Thakshila Ranaweera, National Women's Network President Kusumalatha Rajapaksha, Anuradhapura District Civil Society Federation Vice President & Justice of the Peace Rupa Gamage, Iroshan Halgamuwa, Board of Directors (Director of Programmes) of Rajarata Praja Kendraya, and Shiromi Priyanga, Regional Coordinator of Human Rights Commission, co-chaired the event, moderated by human rights activist and journalist Kaushal Ranasinghe.