Sexual harassment of tourists on the rise

  • Police, hoteliers in talks to stem the rot and ensure safety of foreign visitors
By Mirudhula Thambiah

The increasing number of cases of harassment of tourists and of sexual abuse in the south has prompted police to discuss the issue with hoteliers to ensure the safety of tourists. Senior DIG Southern Range Lalith Jayasinghe told the Sunday Times, discussions were held with owners of tourist hotels in the southern province on Thursday and Friday, on ensuring the safety of tourists. The discussions were held in Galle, Weligama and Tangalle.

The discussions came after a fresh case of sexual abuse was reported in the Dickwella area earlier this week. Last Monday, a 47-year-old German national, residing with her husband at an Ayurvedic Hotel owned by an Italian national, in Dickwella, was allegedly raped by a youth in the village. The woman had been sleeping, when the youth, residing close to the hotel, had entered the room and raped her, and escaped.

Dickwella Police confirmed that the woman’s complaint was recorded, after which she was subject to a medical examination. Soon after the medical examination, the couple had left the country. “However, we continued with the investigations and arrested a youth living close to the hotel. He has been produced and remanded until Monday,” police said.

They said the youth will be subjected to a DNA test as part of the ongoing investigations. The manager of the hotel, who did not wanted to be identified, said they were co-operating with the police investigations.
A series of incidents of sexual harassment of tourists have been reported from various parts of the country in recent months.

On December 29 last year, five youths who attempted to molest a 23-year-old Swedish national, were arrested by the Negombo police. The tourist was walking on the beach at night, when a group of young men had attempted to drag her away, but she had screamed for help, and people nearby had intervened.
The youth were warned by courts and released, as the foreigner did not wish to file a case.

On Christmas day, a Russian woman was allegedly raped in a hotel in Tangalle, while her British partner was killed. Eight persons including the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Sampath Chandrapuspha Vidanapathirana are in custody over the incident.

In November, a woman from New Zealand had been harassed in Mihintale. Her husband had been away, when two youths had attempted to drag her to a public toilet. These youths were arrested and remanded.

In October, a South African tourist was raped by a room boy in a hotel in Kalpitiya. However, the foreigner left the country before police could file a case.

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