An Uneven Playing Field
By Amalini de Sayrah and Raisa Wickrematunge - Thu May 03, 11:33 pm
The implementation of a 25% quota for women’s representation in local councils at Sri Lanka’s 2018 Local Government Election was a welcome move, and the result of years of advocacy and activism by women’s rights groups. However, in the lead up to polling, election observers such as the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence recorded several instances of intimidation, harassment and slander leveled against female candidates. These ranged from attempting to deter possible candidates from seeking nominations to violence that directly threatened their safety once they had been included on party lists.
There were several documented instances of outright violence. A candidate in Embilipitiya saw her house attacked with stones. In Welikanda, a candidate was admitted to hospital after being sexually assaulted by a supporter. An employer threatened a candidate in Valikamam, working as a probation officer in the health sector at the time. The employer, a public health midwife, said that she would not make the candidate’s job permanent due to her candidacy. A candidate running for the Kotte Municipal Council seat filed a false complaint with the police against a female candidate, implying wrongdoings in the past that warranted an investigation….