03/15/2019, 16.43
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Seven hundred women march for equal rights in Jaffna

by Melani Manel Perera

The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement organised the protest action. Women demand 50 per cent of seats in Parliament, instead of the current 25 per cent.

Jaffna (AsiaNews) – About 700 women started a march in the streets of Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka. With the support of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), they are protesting against a climate of discrimination against women that is still widespread in the country.

To put an end to this, at least at an institutional level, they demand that women be guaranteed 50 per cent of the seats in lieu of the 25 per cent "granted" by the current Maithripala Sirisena government.

In Sri Lanka women represent 52 per cent of the population, but in politics female representation is just 5.3 per cent, that is 13 lawmakers out of a total of 225 seats. In the provincial councils, representation is even lower, at 1.9 per cent.

The protesters, supported by many activists and politicians, want women be given equal rights. In particular, they ask that the UN Convention for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) be implemented.

They complain that women are frequently victims of acts of violence, workplace harassment, threats within the family, and pressure from religious leaders.

According to NAFSO coordinator Lavina Hasanthi, if women were guaranteed access to decision-making posts, "they could lead the process correctly. Furthermore, there would be less crime, corruption, violations and bribes.”

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