In a global moment where the conversation around sexual violence is both incessant and remarkably over-simplified, this report,The Forever Victims Tamil Women in Post-War Sri Lanka, is a snapshot study by myself and Dr. Kate Cronin-Furman that attempts to disrupt prevailing narratives on the position, and politics, of Tamil women. As Sri Lanka comes up for discussion this month in the United Nations Human Rights Council, we hope this report highlights some of the complexities of daily life for Tamil women.

The Forever Victim

Through a cross-section of direct interviews on the island and additional secondary research from March-July 2015, we find that:

“Women in the north still face the risk of rape and harassment by the security forces present throughout the region, but their lives are even more negatively impacted by the climate of fear and by a worrying uptick in violence against women within the Tamil community. 

The ever-present threat of violence by the military has led women to lead tightly circumscribed lives, limiting their daily activities in order to minimize their risk of sexual assault. Their reduced participation in public life keeps them in the home, where they are increasingly vulnerable to violence at the hands of the men in their lives, many of whom are also struggling with the after-effects of wartime trauma. And the measures taken by the community, by the state, and by international actors to address their needs have only made the situation worse. Hasty marriage for protection, well-being schemes that entail isolation and exposure to state agents, and dis-empowering livelihoods programs have further undermined their economic and political position.”
We are grateful to have the report, and analyses on it’s importance to the conversation on Sri Lanka at a critical moment, covered by Rafia Zakaria, Meena Kandasamy, and in recent media appearances on Al Jazeera.