The Law & Society Trust, in a new study, has found that many women migrant workers return to Sri Lanka without sufficient savings, employable skills or viable livelihood options.
"At times, they come back to find their marriages over and families shattered. Many returnees find themselves indebted, either directly or indirectly, or through loans incurred by the families," the Trust found.
The findings are contained in a publication titled "Abandoned and Forgotten: Returnees Migrant Women Workers in Sri Lanka".
The researchers said that, ironically, these women migrate because of a lack of suitable alternative livelihood opportunities in the country, or to pay off debts, or a combination of other reasons.
It added that, there are large numbers of reported and unreported cases of physical and sexual abuse of female migrant workers in host countries.
In the publication, the Trust has recommended that the existing laws on migrant workers be reformed to include reintegration of returnee female workers.
"Many returnee migrant workers require livelihood assistance, psycho-social counselling, sound alternatives to the compulsion of repeat migration, to overcome traumas of separation and abuse, and to re-discover their roles and places within their families and society."
The publication was a result of a review carried out by the Trust on the existent governmental and non-governmental reintegration schemes which were evaluated through field investigations in Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala and Puttalam through numerous interviews and focus group discussions with Foreign Employment Bureau officials, local government officials, NGOs, migrant workers and other stakeholders.
CEB to shift from Colombo
2 to Narahenpita
The Ceylon Electricity Board situated at Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 2, is to be relocated to Narahenpita, and its building to be rented out to the private sector, said Minister of Power & Energy Champika Ranawaka.
He said that, presently, the CEB is located in a busy area, while some of the other CEB offices were spread out in the city, making it difficult to coordinate. “We are also paying heavy rent in some of these places”, he said.
He said that a new building will be constructed on land owned by the CEB at Kirula Road, Narahenpita.
Mystery surrounding mother leopard continues
The search is still on for the mother of three female leopard cubs found near the village of Thabbowa, Karuwalagaswewa, in the Puttalam district, about 10 days ago. The cubs, which were being kept in a home, were seized by the authorities and handed over to the Wild Life Department.
The mystery surrounding the mother leopard continues. If the mother was killed by poachers or hunters, wildlife experts say, its carcass, or signs or clues to its whereabouts, should have surfaced by now. Villagers say the mother leopard may have been killed by hunters or poachers, or the unprotected cubs may have been picked up by unknown persons when the mother was away hunting for food. The cubs were allegedly found in a reserve forest in the area.
According to locals, leopards are not known to stray into the environs of Thabbowa-Karuwalagaswewa, although they are found in the neighbouring Wilpattu wildlife reserve.
Southern Highway: Toll of Rs. 3 per km
By Damith Wickremasekare
A comprehensive traffic plan for Phase I of the Southern Highway (Kottawa to Galle) which is due to be opened later this month has been drawn up by Police.
Under the plan buses, three-wheelers, motorcycles, containers and lorries will be prohibited from using the road.
Road Development Authority (RDA) officers will be stationed at the entrances to the highway and will verify the condition of vehicles and issue toll tickets costing Rs. three per km. to road users.
The vehicles will need to be in a condition that could maintain a speed of 100 Kmh.
In addition to the cost incurred to build this super highway, it is planned to deploy special teams of police, vehicle repair units, the fire brigade, as well as teams of doctors and nurses at 18 points along the highway.
Quarters too are to be built in the vicinity for officers who will be on duty round the clock.
Among other conveniences for highway users will be the provision for a fuel station as well as other entertainment facilities which will be set up at a midway point for travellers to break rest.
The highway will be strictly out of bounds to pedestrians and crossing the highway is to be prohibited. Offenders would be fined by the police.
The entire project is to cost Rs. 75 billion once the final stage Pinnaduwa to Matara is completed - (JAICA 35.4 billion, ADB 24.1 billion, EXIM Bank 18.7).
Probe on shooting
An inquiry into a shooting incident during a rugger match in Kandy last week has been initiated on the orders of Central Province Deputy Inspector General of Police Nihal Samarakoon.
DIG Samarakoon said he has collected the relevant video clips of the incident and recorded statements of the media persons who videoed the incident, as part of the inquiry.
Allegations whether a rugby player was also involved in the shooting incident are being probed.
Play was interrupted for about 20 minutes due to the incident.
However, the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union president Lasith Gunaratne said that they will not be initiating any disciplinary inquiry into the incident as, according to their information it was an airman who had opened fire and not a player.
He said the video clips available with them showed the airman firing into the air and a player rushing towards him.
Mr. Gunaratne said that there was no mention of the incident in the reports of the referee or the match officials.
PNB men in trouble over alleged
assault of couple
Two police officers were taken in for questioning after they are alleged to have assaulted a young couple in an unprovoked attack in Colombo Fort shortly before dusk yesterday.
According to police, the mufti-clad pair from the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) is also alleged to have made vulgar remarks and teased several other girls in the same area before setting upon the couple.
An official with the Fort Police said that an inquiry has already been launched and that the PNB has been informed in this connection.
Eye witnesses told the Sunday Times that the two policemen had even stepped on the girl’s stomach, prompting street vendors to intervene and in the melee the pair was severely assaulted.
The couple later sought treatment at the Colombo National Hospital.The Colombo Fort police are conducting further investigations.
Pharmacists must also be advisors, says handicapped activist
“Act now and act fast,” was the message from Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera to pharmacists in order to bring health, happiness, contentment and trust to ‘disadvantaged’ persons.
Dr. Perera, head of Idiriya, a non-profit organisation working towards social inclusion, in his speech addressing pharmacists participating in a workshop on ‘supporting health services for an enabling society’ said pharmacists not only play the role of prescribing drugs to patients but also play an advisory role.
Ensuring the safety and well-being of ‘disadvantaged’ persons is the duty of pharmacists, he said. “The Social Service Ministry is responsible to bring in regulations. But, every ministry, every pharmacist and every person is responsible to implement them,” he said.
He highlighted that physical inactivity is promoted if the environment is not well-built and cited that more supermarkets are built disregarding safety hazards.
Dr. Perera stressed that the disabled persons need more attention from pharmacists.
Following a petition filed by Dr. Perera, who was made a paraplegic for life after an accident, the Supreme Court ordered that all parts of new public buildings or places shall be designed and constructed with requirements that will ensure safety to all, especially, seniors, pregnant women and disabled persons.
“Social inclusion in a built-in environment is an indispensable important need,” he said, explaining that ability differences are inevitable and differs among individuals.
Heroin smuggled into Kandy High Court
By L. B. Senaratne
Despite tight security, three grams of heroin were smuggled into the Kandy High Court Complex during a hearing of the highly publicised “Arambawela acid case”. Seven persons are charged for throwing acid at audit officer Lalith Arambewela.
The heroin detection was made when an alert police officer, Sub-Inspector H. A. J. D. Weerakoon, noticed a secret exchange taking place between two of the accused, and informed court.
Extra security measures have been in place for the case, which is being heard before Judge Preethi Padman Surasena, who has been specially assigned to the case. Even lawyers were searched before they entered court.
The two parties involved in the covert heroin exchange, previously out on bail, are being held at the Kandy Police Station.
The seven accused are Ananda Munasinghe, a director of education associated with the In-service Teacher Training Programme; Ananda Weerasinghe, chief accountant of the Kandy Provincial Education Department; Mohammed Razik; Mohammed Rehan; Hussain Seyedu; Mohammed Shafik; Hiripitiyegedera Mohammed Nelufer; Mohammed D. R. Rahnd; Mohammed Haniffa, and Mohammed Imtiaz.
The first and second accused, Ananda Weerasinghe and Ananda Munasinghe, who were on bail, have been remanded.
The defence closed its case on Friday.