V-Day: Writings to end violence against women and girls

The Sri Lankan government’s denial of things extends well beyond allegations of war crimes. Earlier this year, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickramasuriya “Rapes, this and that not taking any place in Sri Lanka”. Writing about this daft and peculiar statement, Roel Raymond noted,

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand why our diplomats and politicians continue to bristle defensively, refusing to accept fault, scrambling to cover the massive chip on their collective shoulders. How hard can it be to admit one is wrong? How very different would it have been if Ambassador Wickramasuriya had said ‘Yes this is a problem, but we as a nation are committed to ending it’?

On 1st April last year, The Grassrooted Trust led the global V-Day celebration in Colombo at the Barefoot Gallery with a production of ‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer: Writings to End Violence Against Women & Girls’, a groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights. The show was sold out, and The Grassrooted Trust was able to raise and donate LKR 50,000 to the Women’s Devenlopment Center, Kandy.

The show’s success was the catalyst for this year’s ‘වී DAY’, where as promised, we will showcase Sri Lankan stories that discuss not only conventional forms of violence against women and girls, such as rape, battery, incest and sexual slavery, but also more unconventional, far less reported forms of violence, stemming from patriarchy, and cultural hypocrisy.

Under the direction of Anuruddha Fernando and Hans Billimoria ‘වී-DAY 2012 – Writings to end Violence Against Women and Girls in Sri Lanka’, a selection of original writings which will be staged on Sunday, 1st April 2012 at the Warehouse Project, Block # 26, Tripoli Road, Colombo 10. Directions here.

A total of seven pieces, all of which have been written by Sri Lankans living and working in the murky field of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sri Lanka, will be performed by experienced cast of actors from both English and Sinhala drama traditions. The entire programme will last approximately ninety minutes, including an interval.

Groundviews caught up with Hans Billimoria and a few actors in the play to talk about the production, and the issues it aims to raise.

We talk for around 25 minutes, and address issues of sexuality, the sponsorship of this kind of production by media organisations that have been openly homophobic, the challenge of moving the action from stage to polity and society, over the long-term, the ways in which theatre can help strengthen awareness over this prevalent issue.

Also see video on V-Day produced by Vikalpa here.

  • Latika Vedanayagam

    Oh, Really the rapes never happened ???

    This remains me about the Rajapaksa Government constant propagating that there were ” Zero ” civilian casualties in the war..
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    But what about this news item -The mass-rape alleged in Theavipuram amid civilan slaughter

    Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group that seeks legal redress to Tamil victims of war, said Saturday that the organization is piecing together evidence based on an eye-witness testimony that up to 20 women, separated from nearly 200 civilians who surrendered to the SLA, were alleged to have been raped by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers near the village of Theavipuram, in Mullaiththeevu, in April 2009. While lack of witness protection program in Sri lanka, and threat to life of witnesses who appear against Security Forces have placed TAG’s legal effort in UK on hold, TAG said that the current legal action in UK involving Ex-Army Commander, Prasanna de Silva, may provide the momentum required to seek witnesses and to obtain corroborative evidence to identify the perpetrators of the alleged crime.

    “Families in small numbers were fleeing the Rajapaksa Government demarcated No Fire Zone (NFZ) in Mu’l’lvaikkaal in Mullaitivu from February till the end of the war on or around 17th May. There were persistent rumours among the beleagured civilians that mass rapes were occurring during this period. 40 to 50 Kilometer area inland from the SLA forward lines close to the beachhead of the NFZ, was fully occupied by several divisions of the SLA. No one, other than the victim-escapees, can bear witness to the crimes committed by the SLA in the area controlled by the SLA,” a witness who was working among the population in Mu’l’livaikkaal until the end of the war, and later escaped to a foreign country, told TamilNet.

    According to this witness, evidence of such crimes can be gathered as soon as there is free access to the Vanni area. “It will be hard for the military to destroy all the evidence; the memory of such crimes last until the victim is dead,” the witness said.

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=35055