Sri Lanka, thuggery and the culture impunity
Posted on June 17th, 2013

Michelle Alexander 

During the course of this year alone, there have been many reported cases of violence and thuggery. This seems to reflect even with the off-spring of the highest in the land. Sadly, this culture has permeated to schools where even students now engage in acts of violence, and is spreading to every sphere, ranging from acts of basic vandalism (spray painting crude images and derogatory language on walls), to cruel forms of ragging (or hazing) in the Universities, to damaging  business and private property, to that of rape and murder. While some incidents are publicized, reports of other incidents don’t even see the light of day

Some of the factors for an increase in acts of thuggery and violence include:

  • Prolonged frustration or disruption of goal seeking – This factor, together with a sense of helplessness, makes one more susceptible to being influenced by powerful and influential individuals to carry out their own ends, much to the detriment of many.
  • Socially learned behavior- Neal E. Miller and John Dollard at Yale University who published “Social Learning and Imitation” in 1941, begin their work with the statement that “Human behavior is learned; precisely that behavior which is widely felt to characterize man as a rational being, or as a member of a particular nation or social class, is acquired rather than innate”.  By witnessing violence being committed by others increases the odds that observers will engage in similar behavior in similar circumstances either immediately or in the future.
  • Effect of rewards that come attached to violent behavior “”…” When acts of violence by others are justified, protected or rewarded, it creates the impression that by carrying out acts of aggression, and one may be rewarded or protected. Rewarding and justifying acts of violence may lead to an increase in potential future acts of aggression.
  • There are also other factors to take into consideration, such as previously aggressive or violent behavior, being the victim of physical abuse and/or sexual abuse, exposure to violence in the home, exposure to violence in media, use of drugs and/or alcohol, combination of stressful family socioeconomic factors (poverty, severe deprivation, marital breakup, single parenting, unemployment, loss of support from extended family)

One of the many ways to combat this situation is by ensuring that, depending on the crime committed, the offender, if convicted, is given a suitable jail term, community service/military duty in the case of brawling or vandalism and destruction of property, or, in the extreme of cases, the death sentence. This will only work if:

  • There is quick and efficient policing and criminal investigations, which is free from outside interference. For this purpose the Police must be empowered carry out their duties. The same should be extended to Lawyers and the Judiciary.
  • The punishment must be prompt and certain.
  • The punishment must be meted out within a reasonable and specific time frame, and MUST be unavoidable.
  • The public must also play their part in speaking out against acts of violence. We remain silent, and laws will continue to be broke. There is no other way around this.


2 Responses to “Sri Lanka, thuggery and the culture impunity”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some other reasons for increase of violent activity :

    (a) Watching acts of violence in various media such as films, tv, computer videos, etc. may numb a person’s innate horror toward violence.

    (b) Village folk are not naturally violent, but when they come to the cities or suburbs, then they may take to crime. Poor living conditions, dire poverty, seeing others ‘doing well’ may drive them to negative emotions, despair and crime.

    (c) Drug abuse is another reason. The reasoning faculties of the brain cease to function with some drugs and criminal activities may take place after drug abuse.

    (d) Stress is another factor. Heat (weather) plus humidity is a stress factor.

    People are generally good at heart and like to help others avoid criminal activity. It is mainly the Youth of the country who have to be looked after. It is up to the Buddhist organisations to set up a few Youth Hostels all over the country with libraries, cafeteria, bed & b’fast, some games such as table tennis, carrom, etc. available, and where for a nominal fee membership can be had. and they can spend time safely.

  2. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    when the leader encourages thuggery how do you expect others not to?. thugs of the present regime rules. the security personnel of politicos presume they can intimidate anyone. the pradseshiya sabha corrupt politicians of the current regime rules – recently a teacher has been humiliated by one of these thugs who apparently should be jailed without a trial. but what does our leader do? well how can he take action when his support base is full of crooks, thugs, bribe takers, criminals, murderers etc etc. taking action against his friends means he will lose his support and eventually cost his re-election. anyway elections in this country is a farce – a polling booth could go either way on votes but the announcement in Colombo will be in favour of the corrupt regime. the only way is a peoples movement to get rid of all politicians and 13a and the rest.

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