Saturday 4 August 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

04 August 2018

Sexual Harassment vs Racial Harassment

I was directed today to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Sexual harassment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sri Lankan Missions overseas’ .  Around the same time I received a video clip about DMK Chief Karunanidhi who  has two wives, one lawful  and the other official. Mr Karunanidhi is reported to have called the former his ‘manaivi’/wife and the other his ‘thunaivi’/partner.  The former is more structured whilst the latter is fluid and more relaxing.

When I questioned the Dr Deepika Udagama here in Sydney,  about her thoughts on introducing Equal Opportunity Laws in Sri Lanka – to prevent/minimize Racial Discrimination – Dr Udagama then said that they were already built into other laws of Sri Lanka.  This was prior to the lady becoming the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. Recently,  when there were attacks on Dr Udagama, by supporters of Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Sarath Weerasekera, former Director General of the Civil Defence Force, including on the basis that the lady was supporting NGOs that were furthering the Tamil Tiger cause,  a group largely of Academics came forward in support of Dr Udagama.  The law was the wife and this support group was the partner. Had there been a law against such expressions – for example racial discrimination law, Dr Udagama would have had the duty to use that against her attackers. When it seems ‘unfair’ we need partners in distress.

As per the above mentioned Sri Lanka Guardian article:
[A Mission is a favourite and safe place for sex predators as the female officers and employees are highly vulnerable there. Undoubtedly, smoothness of their official life depends at the mercy of the Heads of Mission or senior Diplomatic officers. These sex predators have ample opportunities to force the female officers and employees for a sexual relationship when they confront with issues of maintaining daily life in an alien country. These opportunities become available when asking them to work after office hours and during visits to various parts of the country of accreditation and participate in late night events especially during VIP visits from Sri Lanka.]
 The above alleged ‘perils’ exist in the case of migrants from countries like Sri Lanka which receives Aid from countries like Australia and more so in the case of women. Likewise, when those from Tamil  speaking areas migrate to Colombo where Sinhalese is the official language. If one is therefore a female and of minority race, relative to the senior by position, which factor would one attribute as the reason – race or gender? In my case in Australia – where I did feel discriminated against – there was no question in my mind that it was race. It was never gender to my mind. If someone expressed admiration, I took it as a compliment. I did fight for gender based Equal Opportunity in Colombo where did not experience racial discrimination at the workplace. I guess it was because I was valued by my colleagues of Sinhalese origin.

Interestingly , my attention was drawn to the speech by Emeritus Professor Carlo Fonseka at the International Symposium organized jointly by the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Family Planning Association on 22 April 2011, published by Sri Lanka Guardian, in which the good professor quoted as follows:
[Desmond Morris the famous author of Naked Ape has described the following ten functional categories of sex. I quote him with just one explanatory comment on each function.
 1. Procreation Sex – most basic function
2. Pair-formation Sex –to establish the emotional relationship between the pair
3. Pair-maintenance Sex – to maintain & reinforce the bond
4. Physiological Sex – to relieve the natural periodic physiological tension
5. Exploratory Sex – to experiment with new forms of mutual stimulation
6. Self-rewarding Sex – sex for sex’s sake brings its own reward
7. Occupational Sex – sex operating as occupational therapy, relieving boredom
8. Tranquillizing Sex – to calm shattered nerves
9. Commercial Sex – straightforward commercial transaction (like modern cricket!)
10. Status Sex – concerned with dominance and not with reproduction]

Many of the above would apply to any form of  physiology based enjoyment including racism. When it is enjoyable to both – we call it diversity. When one enjoys at the expense of the other we call it unjust discrimination.

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr Karunanidhi who was very much part of the film industry – is known to have separated them – the two spouses  on ‘time’ basis. In politics also Mr Karunanidhi is known to have had Thunaivi – LTTE leadership, in addition to official wife in New Delhi.

Had the Sri Lankan Government learnt its lessons from the 50 year war, it would have also maintained two armies and never allowed them to meet. Then the Diplomatic missions would not have had to accommodate war-heroes / criminals (depends on which side you are on). Likewise the Diplomatic Thunaivis – the Diaspora and the official voters for the Tamil politicians.

Unless sexual harassment was specifically included in the laws of Sri Lanka as being unlawful – it is left to the individual to manage it anyway they can – but without acting in breach of the law. If one does act in breach of the law but fully believed that their actions were just as per Dharma – they need to remain silent and not take any credit for it – as many wives and mistresses did under the barter system. Looks as if the Diaspora needs to be more silent to prevent foreign judgments on the basis of credits taken by rebels – as in the following case:
[Federal prosecutors said a judge ordered Thursday the 36-year-old, identified only as Sivatheeban B. because of German privacy rules, detained pending a potential indictment. He was arrested Wednesday in the Duesseldorf area, suspected of committing war crimes and membership in a foreign terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say he belonged to the Tamil Tigers from 2006-2009. They allege that, in 2008, he tied up 16 soldiers and guarded them as they were driven to a site where they were shot.]
UK Tamil News made the following connection:
[After Buddhist Monk Call For Dictatorial Sinhale Hitler Type Rule, Jaffna MP Wants Return of Authoritarian LTTE Leader Veluppilaai Prabhakaran].
Wonder whether the Germans heard  the monk as well as Mrs Maheswaran and copied the Lankan government and the weaker side?
A mistress/minority  working at the same level as the wife / majority but taking less rewards – becomes the real Energy that works the whole. The Tamil Diaspora often competes with the Sri Lankan Government in producing outcomes that would impress wider world. We need to be quiet achievers to be successful as minority / Shakthi / Energy

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