Featured image courtesy PTI Photo

25th April 2018 

H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu
High Commissioner
High Commission of India
Colombo 3.

Your Excellency,

The Rape and Murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua: Women’s Groups and Activists Express Concern

We are deeply disturbed by recent events in Rasana, in the Kathua district of Kashmir and shocked by the fact that a young eight year old was tortured and gang-raped in a temple over a four-day period before she was strangled and killed. Let us begin by saying that we welcome the response of the average Indian citizen whose outrage and mobilisation is an inspiration to other societies faced with similar atrocities.

As members of the regional community we raise our voice in protest for particular reasons that make this case more horrific than others that have taken place in our region in the last year or two. First it took three months for the facts to come to light and we commend the men and women of the Jammu and Kashmir police force for finally bringing this matter to light before the courts. Secondly, ministers from the ruling government attended rallies in support of the accused uttering communal statements despite the brutal nature of the crime. Thirdly, lawyers and the Bar Association of the area also came out in support of the accused and tried to block the police from bringing their evidence to court. These are unconscionable matters and the Indian public has taken the lead in responding to the vicious nature of this behavior. Finally, the use of rape of a child as a weapon to terrorise another community is particularly heinous and deserves national, regional and global condemnation.

Your Excellency, we fear for our region in that many of our societies are experiencing governmental action and political movements that enable hate crimes, hate speech and general intolerance toward another community. This is done through the creation of organisations that engage in vicious acts and sometimes enjoy impunity as well as through social media. We urge India and the governments of the region to take bold steps to confront these issues and to return South Asia to its roots where respect for diversity and humanity were part of its cultural heritage and many of the movements of independence from colonialism.

Yours sincerely,

Signed by:


  • Center for Social Concerns- Jaela
  • Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum- Colombo 5
  • Mannar Women’s Development Federation
  • Women’s Action Network
  • Muslim Women Development Trust- Puttalam
  • Affected Women’s Forum – Akkaraipattu
  • Women and Media Collective – Colombo
  • Women’s Education and Research Centre (WERC)


  • Radhika Coomaraswamy- Former Under Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Dr Malathi de Alwis- Visiting faculty, University of Colombo
  • Camena Guneratne- Professor Open University of Sri Lanka
  • Sarala Emmanuel- Suriya Women’s Development Centre
  • Deshanbandu Jezima Ismail- Chairperson Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  • Professor Savitri GoonesekereBoard Member of the Global partnership on VAC
  • Annie Kurian- Centre for Social Concerns
  • Prema Gamage- Freelance  Consultant
  • Kumari Jayawardhane- Secretary. Social Scientists Association
  • Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe- University of Kelaniya
  • Silma Ahamed- Activist Mother
  • Florine Marzook- Researcher
  • Shreen Abdul Saroor- Women’s rights activists
  • Mahalaxumy Kurushanthan- Women’s rights activists
  • Juwairiya Mohideen- Women’s rights activists
  • Jensila Majeed- Women’s rights activists
  • Vanie Simon- Women’s rights activists
  • Y. Idamegama- Gender Consultant
  • Inoka Priyadarshani- Social Researcher.
  • Chandra Welegedera- Director, Women’s Development Centre, Badulla
  • Selvy Thiruchandran PhD- Trustee and Board Member Women’s Education and Research Centre (WERC)
  • Fathima Cader- Print and Electronic Media Journalist
  • Chulani Kodikara- PhD candidate- University of Edinburgh
  • Ein Lall- Documentary film maker.
  • Farzana Haniffa- Senior Lecturer. University of Colombo
  • Munza Mushtaq- Journalist
  • Sumika Perera- Coordinator Women’s Resource Center, Kurunegala
  • Sepali KottegodaDPhil (Sussex) Director Programmes – Women’s Economic Rights and Media Women and Media Collective
  • Kumudini Samuel- Director, Programmes and Research. Women and Media Collective
  • Nimalka Fernando- Women’ s Political Academy, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
  • Anusha David- Chairman, Headlines
  • Shafinaz Hassendeen- Director- Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  • Faizun Zackariya- Director- Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  • Anberiya Hanifa- Director- Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  • Iffath Anwar- Bachelor in Social Work- National Institute of Social Development
  • Manjuka Sritharan- Bachelor in Social Work- National Institute of Social Development
  • Aathifa Thowfeek- Trainee- Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  • Dilrukshi Handunnetti,- Journalist and Lawyer & South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN)
  • Hunniya Wazeer. Directress cum Principal. British International College, Matara
  • Yasmin Aziz- Activist
  • Farzana Khan- Director Viyakata(Pvt) Ltd

Editor’s Note: Also read “Sri Lanka’s Pandemic of Sexual Violence” and “Stories of Resilience from Mannar and Mullaitivu