dharmadasa-180In this interview, Visaka Dharmadasa, the Executive Director of the Association of War Affected Women in Sri Lanka, discussed her grassroots work fighting violence against women, where she said the issue has become a priority “even for the police at the ground level” in Sri Lanka, who told her it was one of their biggest challenges.

She said the police would come up with solutions. “Women do come with solutions, but to implement them—they can’t. They have good ideas, but who is implementing them? But with the police, they implement.”

One success she noted was the significant reduction of violence against women in Kilinochchi’s police division, “which is at the heart of the biggest battle.”

“It’s a huge challenge everywhere, no matter whatever social strata you come from, whatever economic situation that you are in, especially when we speak about domestic violence,” she said.

“But when it comes to the violence on the streets and the workplace and numerous other kinds of sexual harassments, there is the need, of course, of making the society aware. And like in India, after there was a huge uprising [over the rape case]… we are really looking forward for this to spillover to Sri Lanka. We think that there can be one campaign which will put Sri Lanka back again to what it was.”

“We can come together as women across all differences, not only in Sri Lanka—we are really looking forward to have South Asia as a region rid of armed conflicts. It is women who will be playing that crucial role.”

The interview was conducted by Maureen Quinn, Director of Programs at the International Peace Institute.

Listen to the interview or read the transcript here.

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