Radhakrishnan urges Police, Edu Ministry for a survey
BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN
MP V. Radhakrishnan has urged the Department of Education and Police to collaborate on a survey to find out the number of school dropouts in the plantation sector as many who have stopped schooling, he alleged, have gone to work as domestic aides. Several protests were staged yesterday (27) against the death of the 16-year-old maid who worked at MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s private residence.
State Minister of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman said he was confident of the Police teams investigating the teenager’s death. “No child of plantation workers should be enslaved and this has to stop,” he added. He also said that they are holding discussions to stop children from being sent to work outside their estates and bring new laws to counsel them. He also added that a discussion is underway to legally restrict parents from sending children to work.
He added the laws pertaining to the workers are over 100 years old and are flouted due to economic reasons and other issues. However, that does not mean that children can leave schools and be sent out for jobs, he added. He also underlined that many are using the maid’s death for political gain.
A protest was held at the Jaffna’s main bus stand yesterday (27) organised by the National Fisheries Corporation, the Workers Association District Youth Council for Change, Poonthalir District Women's Organisation and the Vadamarachchi East Citizens' Group. MPs Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and several others including members of various civil organisations joined the protest which started at 9.00 a.m. They said those who talk about justice and law have violated the same in their homes and questioned how the masses can rely on such people.
Another protest was held in Kotagala in Dimbulla Estate seeking justice for the underage maid. The protesters took to the Talawakelle-Nawalapitiya Road and chanted slogans demanding the truth should be disclosed to her community. In the meantime, a protest was also held in Kilinochchi yesterday with several women’s organisations joining the demonstation.
Sureshkumar Rushanthini who led the protest, speaking to the Kilinochchi Media Centre, said that security and protection for women and justice for the girl are the need of the hour. “It’s not just this maid, there are many children and women who are abused daily”. She said those safeguarding women are ‘sleeping’ and nothing has been implemented nor executed. “The silence behind the death of the maid leaves room for many more vulnerable children to be exploited,” she added. “If law makers and politicians hire underage children does that make them powerful and add to their power? They seem to have laws that are different to common people,” she emphasised.
The Government should pay close attention to the growing child and women abuse in the country, the women’s groups added. “Many women who died in pain and heartache are buried in the country and some did not get justice while those implicated are among us,” they said. There are cases where those who are innocent have been sent to prison while the real culprits roam free in society, they further alleged. “Women cannot continue to live in fear” they said and demanded that the law should be not only be protected but also implemented to free society from criminals.
“If the family that employed the maid committed a crime, they should be booked without fear of repercussions from a section of society or political parties. This matter is not political,” they added.