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Today Vithiya Sivaloganadan: Who’s next?

21 May 2015 Posted by One Comment

rapeThe title of this post is the title of a poem written by Shamila Daluwatta, a vocal activist for the rights of women and girls in Sri Lanka. The horrific news from the North of another gang rape in just three months, has forced us once again to review who we are as a people. The gang rape in Mannar in March was contested, the evidence was questioned, even by rights activists in Colombo, perhaps seeking to ensure that if such horrible happenings do occur, we need more than hearsay. A grandmother’s anguish was insufficient. Now? Would we deny this too? Is the pain on the streets yesterday also staged or somehow untrue? What of the response on social media to “Tamils protesting”, with the fear mongering of  war and conflict on the lips not just of ousted politicians, but also the obvious nationalist elements that still view everyone but the Sinhalese as the other. So blinded by bigotry and political expediency there was little thought spared for the girl, the daughter, the young woman on the threshold of possibility. Now dead. No more. Ashes and dust.

“According to reports, her hands and legs had been tied and a rag had been stuffed into her mouth before she died.” – Al Jazeera

How can such inhumanity be possible? This question has challenged us over and over and over again in Sri Lanka. Yet, it’s a pathetic rhetorical question. One that has so many possible answers, that it remains unanswered by those very possibilities. Anthropology, sociology, psychology,  any behavioral science that tries to explain it, including the blame of Gang Rape Porn on the internet, still struggles to answer the whys and hows of such cruelty and suffering. Perhaps we’re afraid to truly comprehend what is possible. Perhaps we see ourselves not just in the victims but also in the perpetrators. Perhaps not understanding it is our simplest defense. Is our confusion and disgust and helplessness the very facade we need to stay ensconced in the safe spaces we’ve created for ourselves, free from the brutal reality that can be, and is? Are we overcome with shame at our inability to act, or do we cling desperately to empathy, so that we don’t need to go any further? 

We have to echo Jaffna’s cries for justice. We have to stand together, once again, even as we did in January, to confront evil and hatred. There is no us and them. There never was an us and them. All there is, is who we are, and this more than ever is a test of our metal as a people. Justice. We demand it. Justice. We deserve it. Justice. It is our right.

Today Vithiya Sivaloganadan: Who’s next?

First they raped Manamperi

And buried her body alive

I did not speak

Because there was an insurrection

Then they came for women in Kahawatte

I did not speak

Because I was not from Kahawatte

Then they came for women in Nuriwatte

I did not speak

Because I did not live in Nuriwatta

Then, they came for Women in the North

I did not speak, because

Krishanthi Kumaraswami,  koneshwari, Isaipriya

They were not my sisters

Then they came for women with a different skin colour

Eight men gang-raped Victoria Alexandra

I did not speak

Because she was just a foreigner

Then they gruesomely gang-raped Rita John

Stabbed her body fifteen times

Left her murdered body on the Modera beach

I did not speak

Because she was an Indian

She was asking for trouble

By walking on the beach

with her jewelries in the evening

Then they gang raped a woman in Wijerama

I did not speak

Because she was just a prostitute

Then they raped hundreds of virgins

And celebrated with champagne

in Akurassa and Monaragala

I did not speak

Because too scared of politicians

Then they raped Logarani

Threw her naked body into a sacred temple

Then they gang raped Saranya Selvarasa

I did not speak

Finally they raped

Vithiya Sivaloganadan

I did not speak

Because she is Tamil

She lived on a small Island in Kytes

By Shamila Daluwatte, shamiladaluwatte@gmail.com

One Comment »

  • Mercy Nathan said:

    I feel guilty too. I did not speak out. Being comfortable in a free and democratic society for the past twelve years in the UK. Perhaps I have now given up after being part of the suffering.
    I cannot now keep quiet. Reading through your post, just stirs the anger within me against the perpetrators of these brutal acts. Thank you for bringing me out of my comfort and selfish zone.

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