SRI LANKA: Domestic violence and sexual assault complaint not investigated by Godakawela Police
Posted on September 15th, 2017

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Dear Friends,

According to the information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received, Ms. Sashikala Maduwanthi Dharmapalain was severely assaulted by her husband’s family on 14 August 2017. Although she made a domestic violence and sexual assault complaint to the police on the very same day, a month later the police have not yet started investigations.

CASE NARRATIVE:

In 2014, Ms. Pallekanda Mannalage Sashikala Maduwanthi Dharmapalain met Lahiru, who at the time was working as a salesperson at Dialog Company. They fell in love and sought the blessings of their parents to get married, which they readily received from Lahiru’s family, but not quite so well from Shashikala’s family. By 2015, Shashikala had gotten married to Lahiru and had moved to his place to live with Lahiru’s mother, Vineetha Indraseeli, father M.V Karunarathne, and one of his sisters, M.V Ishara Sewwandi Karunarathne.

After Shashikala moved to live with her in-laws, her husband started to beat her and subjected her to several other physical harassments. Considering the continuation of married life, she bore the pains and tried her best to steer their lives in a peaceful manner.

In July 2017, after much brutality, Shashikala had fallen severely ill and gone to her parents’ house on July 12. She tried to stay home until her recovery. While she stayed there, she only received a single call from her mother-in law and her husband, who only called to ask her to come home, saying she had rested enough.

Suddenly, on August 10, Shashikala received a call from the Godakawela Police Station. The officer on the phone informed her that Lahiru had come to the Police Station to file a complaint against her. Shashikala replied that she would come to the police station the next day and talk to the police officer in person, to give the details of her situation. On August 11, she went to the Police station and explained her situation. Later, following the instruction of the officers, she filed a complaint at the station on her grievances.

On August 14, both families gathered at the police station for an inquiry. Shashikala’s mother and father accompanied her, and Lahiru’s entire family was there with him in the police station. Shasikala filed another complaint regarding the sexual abuse by her father-in-law with Police Officer Hettiarachchi. Once Shashikala told the story to the head of the Women and Children affairs at the Godakawela Police Station, Ms. Menike, this police officer discouraged Shashikala significantly, even accusing her of lying. When she finally took steps to make her complaint at the police station, Lahiru’s family started to threaten her with abusive language. Once the complaint was made, her father-in-law put up a façade of a caring father who was concerned about her. Therefore, he was not arrested, but kept in the corner of the chamber they were in, without facing any action.

Police officer Menike asked Shashikala to show them where the abuse took place. Her mother was asked to stay at the police station, while her mother-in-law accompanied Shashikala. Even though Menike and four police officers went along with Shashikala, Lahiru’s mother yelled and scolded at Shashikala without hesitation.

Upon arrival, she realized that her husband’s cousins had gotten there ahead of time. Even before she entered the house, she was verbally harassed by the relatives. The moment she stepped into the house, her mother in law and Ms. Vimala, one of Lahiru’s cousins, slapped her. One police officer tried to defend Shashikala, but Ms. Menike chatted affectionately with her husband’s family while she was repeatedly beaten up. After the conversation, Menike finally came to do her duty and asked Shashikala to accompany her to the room where the abuse happened. While Shashikala told them the story, Menike was visibly being very absent minded and hardly took down any notes. Menike told Shashikala that she would remember all this and there was no need to write down everything.

After the biased investigation, Shashikala reached the living area. Immediately, her mother-in-law came forward and hit her on the neck, as if she was waiting for her to come and poured heinous words. Despite the police officers’ defence, Shashikala was surrounded by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and Vimala. They slapped her, and she fell to the floor and beat her up. Shashikala was dragged around by her hair while constantly being threatened to be killed. They also kicked her several times, and Vimala had held her tightly by the neck almost to the point where she was suffocating. While Shashikala was assaulted, she could not find the senior most officer in the group, Ms. Menike.

Eventually, she made it out of the house, and got in the jeep with the police officers. Shasikala felt heavy pain in her chest and started coughing. When she went back to the police station, she told her parents what happened. Shashikala was determined to seek justice. She went ahead to file another complaint. However, while waiting for Police Officer Hettiarachchi, Menike approached and told her that she should let go off what had happened and gave advice” to her, not to take things any further. Shashikala also saw that Menike was once again talking very closely with her in-laws. Disheartened and disappointed by all this, Shashikala gave up and returned home with her parents.

Having been severely beaten and harassed in the presence of the police, Shashikala is living in fear. It has been 31 days since this happened, and until today, there have been no actions taken to punish the perpetrators or the police officer who is overlooking her obligations as an officer of justice.

Instead of properly investigating the crime, the police have acted to protect the suspect of this heinous crime. A prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation must be initiated and justice served to Shashikala.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate inquiry into the allegations of not investigating the crime of domestic violence and sexual assault by the Godakawela police. Please also call for the prosecution of those proven responsible under the criminal law, as well as internal investigations for breach of Police Departmental Orders. The AHRC will also write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Domestic violence and sexual assault complaint not investigated by Godakawela Police

Name of Victim: PallekandaMannalageSashikalaMaduwanthiDharmapala of ‘Wasana’,Girandura,Pallebadde in Ratnapura District

Alleged perpetrators:
1) Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Godakawela Police Station
2) Woman Police Officer Ms. Menikeof the Godakawela Police Station
3) Mr. MaddegodaWidanalageLahiruDilshanKarunarathne,
4) Ms. VineethaIndraseeli,
5) Mr. M V Karunarathne,
6) Ms. M V NilukaRoshiniKarunarathne,
7) Ms. M V IsharaSewwandiKarunarathne

Date of Incident: 14 August 2017

Place of Incident: Kohilawewa, Galkulugoda, Godakawela

I write with regard to an incident which took place in 2014, where Ms. Sashikala Maduwanthi Dharmapalain was severely assaulted by her husband’s family on 14 August 2017. Although she made a domestic violence and sexual assault complaint to the police on the very same day, a month later the police have not yet started investigations.

Ms. Pallekanda Mannalage Sashikala Maduwanthi Dharmapalain met Lahiru, who at the time was working as a salesperson at Dialog Company. They fell in love and sought the blessings of their parents to get married, which they readily received from Lahiru’s family, but not quite so well from Shashikala’s family. By 2015, Shashikala had gotten married to Lahiru and had moved to his place to live with Lahiru’s mother, Vineetha Indraseeli, father M.V Karunarathne, and one of his sisters, M.V Ishara Sewwandi Karunarathne.

After Shashikala moved to live with her in-laws, her husband started to beat her and subjected her to several other physical harassments. Considering the continuation of married life, she bore the pains and tried her best to steer their lives in a peaceful manner.

In July 2017, after much brutality, Shashikala had fallen severely ill and gone to her parents’ house on July 12. She tried to stay home until her recovery. While she stayed there, she only received a single call from her mother-in law and her husband, who only called to ask her to come home, saying she had rested enough.

Suddenly, on August 10, Shashikala received a call from the Godakawela Police Station. The officer on the phone informed her that Lahiru had come to the Police Station to file a complaint against her. Shashikala replied that she would come to the police station the next day and talk to the police officer in person, to give the details of her situation. On August 11, she went to the Police station and explained her situation. Later, following the instruction of the officers, she filed a complaint at the station on her grievances.

On August 14, both families gathered at the police station for an inquiry. Shashikala’s mother and father accompanied her, and Lahiru’s entire family was there with him in the police station. Shasikala filed another complaint regarding the sexual abuse by her father-in-law with Police Officer Hettiarachchi. Once Shashikala told the story to the head of the Women and Children affairs at the Godakawela Police Station, Ms. Menike, this police officer discouraged Shashikala significantly, even accusing her of lying. When she finally took steps to make her complaint at the police station, Lahiru’s family started to threaten her with abusive language. Once the complaint was made, her father-in-law put up a façade of a caring father who was concerned about her. Therefore, he was not arrested, but kept in the corner of the chamber they were in, without facing any action.

Police officer Menike asked Shashikala to show them where the abuse took place. Her mother was asked to stay at the police station, while her mother-in-law accompanied Shashikala. Even though Menike and four police officers went along with Shashikala, Lahiru’s mother yelled and scolded at Shashikala without hesitation.

Upon arrival, she realized that her husband’s cousins had gotten there ahead of time. Even before she entered the house, she was verbally harassed by the relatives. The moment she stepped into the house, her mother in law and Ms. Vimala, one of Lahiru’s cousins, slapped her. One police officer tried to defend Shashikala, but Ms. Menike chatted affectionately with her husband’s family while she was repeatedly beaten up. After the conversation, Menike finally came to do her duty and asked Shashikala to accompany her to the room where the abuse happened. While Shashikala told them the story, Menike was visibly being very absent minded and hardly took down any notes. Menike told Shashikala that she would remember all this and there was no need to write down everything.

After the biased investigation, Shashikala reached the living area. Immediately, her mother-in-law came forward and hit her on the neck, as if she was waiting for her to come and poured heinous words. Despite the police officers’ defence, Shashikala was surrounded by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law and Vimala. They slapped her, and she fell to the floor and beat her up. Shashikala was dragged around by her hair while constantly being threatened to be killed. They also kicked her several times, and Vimala had held her tightly by the neck almost to the point where she was suffocating. While Shashikala was assaulted, she could not find the senior most officer in the group, Ms. Menike.

Eventually, she made it out of the house, and got in the jeep with the police officers. Shasikala felt heavy pain in her chest and started coughing. When she went back to the police station, she told her parents what happened. Shashikala was determined to seek justice. She went ahead to file another complaint. However, while waiting for Police Officer Hettiarachchi, Menike approached and told her that she should let go off what had happened and gave advice” to her, not to take things any further. Shashikala also saw that Menike was once again talking very closely with her in-laws. Disheartened and disappointed by all this, Shashikala gave up and returned home with her parents.

Having been severely beaten and harassed in the presence of the police, Shashikala is living in fear. It has been 31 days since this happened, and until today, there have been no actions taken to punish the perpetrators or the police officer who is overlooking her obligations as an officer of justice.

Instead of properly investigating the crime, the police have acted to protect the suspect of this heinous crime. A prompt, effective, impartial, and independent investigation must be initiated and justice served to Shashikala.

I therefore request your intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below activate an immediate inquiry into the allegations of police not investigating Shashikala’s complaint. All officers involved should be subject to an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders.

Yours Sincerely,

———————

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: [email protected]

2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: [email protected]

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: [email protected]

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

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