Two in five Sri Lankan women face violence; national survey reveals

Two in five women in Sri Lanka have faced violence by a partner in their lifetime, a government survey has found, stressing the need to pay more attention to the problem.

“A large proportion of women who have experienced violence have attempted suicide,” the survey carried out on more than 2200 women in all districts of the country revealed.

The survey primarily focused on physical, sexual, and psychological violence – three issues Sri Lanka needs to wipe out as part of meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals by 2030.

Psychological violence at the hands of a partner, that involves emotional abuse or controlling a women’s behaviour was recorded at 27.9 percent, the highest among all forms of violence last year.

“Rates did not vary much between urban and rural areas but lifetime prevalence was higher for women living in estate areas,” the findings of the survey published by the census department showed.

Physical violence – mostly experienced while their partners were drunk – also prevailed mostly in the estate region, followed by the rural and urban areas respectively, according to the report.

“Women in Sri Lanka are more than twice as likely to have experienced physical violence by a partner than by a non-partner,” the report read.

It outlined startling details which showed that the kids of most affected mothers were reported to have experienced nightmares, while 4.5 percent had dropped out of school.

The need for gender equality was further highlighted in the report as 47.5 percent of women felt that the man is superior while 46.5 percent believed that “a good wife obeys her husband even if she disagrees”.

The survey also found that women between 15 and 34 years were more prone to all forms of violence.

“Empower young women and girls to recognize their rights to a life free of violence and to locate and access appropriate services,” the census department insisted in its report.

It also called for opportunities to educate and partner with men and boys to advance gender equality and to end violence against women.

Incidentally, this is the first time that a survey has been carried out on violence against women in the country based on the methodology of the World Health Organization.

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