ASIA/SRI LANKA - War widows are the most affected by the conflict which lasted over 30 years

Tuesday, 1 August 2017 women  

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - The Tamil women suffer most from the consequences of the civil war that shook Sri Lanka for at least 30 years. This is what a report, sent to Agenzia Fides, by the International Crisis Group claims. "Eight years after the end of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, Tamil speaking women in the island’s north and east are still seeking justice and truth for wartime violations", says the document which recalls the bold promises made by the government to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2015 – including a truth commission, a special court and offices to investigate missing persons and provide reparations – have failed to materialise even as the urgent economic and psychosocial needs of all conflict-affected groups remain unmet.
In addition to sexual violence committed in refugee camps (at the end of the conflict in 2008-2009, about 300,000 inhabitants in the North-East Provinces were forced to flee), the greatest drama for women is widowhood in a largely patriarchal society. According to the report there are an estimated 40,000 war widows in the Northern Province and 50,000 in the east. These figures do not appear to include wives of those missing and disappeared. "According to one estimate, 58,000 households in the north, accounting for a quarter of the population, are headed by women".
In addition to the psychological and psychiatric wounds of war, widows face economic difficulties, social stigma and collapse of traditional support structures in a torn society.
The report calls on the government and the UN to create the promised structures in 2015 and to put in place economic, educational and psychological support mechanisms in favor of northeastern areas for households led by women without husbands. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 1/8/2017)