The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has strongly denied the allegations made by a right group that its troops are responsible for insecurity experienced by the women in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya speaking to media Friday said there have been repeated attempts to pin incidents of sexual violence on minority women in the North on the troops while in majority of these cases perpetrators are of Tamil ethnicity.
"In a majority of cases, the perpetrators had been close relatives or neighbors of the victim and had been of Tamil ethnicity," the spokesman told media.
The spokesman vehemently denied a recent report released by the London-based Minority Rights Group (MRG) that the militarization of the north and east from 2009 has contributed to continued insecurity for minority women.
The MRG recently released a report titled "Living with insecurity: Marginalization and sexual violence against women in north and east Sri Lanka". In its report the group says that Tamil and Muslim women in the North and East of Sri Lanka are increasingly marginalized and face chronic insecurity due to presence of security forces and government actions.
The report alleged the Sri Lankan government of "actively contributing to insecurity and rights violations through the pervasive militarization of the north and east, with negative consequences for the safety and freedom of minority women."
Brigadier Wanigasooriya said the right groups and other interested parties are repeatedly trying to draw a non-existent correlation between the security forces presence in the North and insecurity of women in the region.
According to the military spokesman a study of incidents of sexual offences occurred in the North between January 2007 and May 2012 had shown that during the conflict period from January 2007 - May 2009, seven security forces personnel were involved in five incidents of sexual violence.
The figures were out of a total of 125 persons accused in 119 incidents reported in the entire Northern Province. The ethnicity of the victims of these cases was 4 Sinhalese and 1 Tamil. In the post conflict period (May 2009 - May 2012) ten Security Forces personnel were reported as being involved in six incidents of sexual violence in the North. This is out of a total of 307 persons accused in 256 incidents for the entire Northern Province. The ethnicity of the victims is 2 Tamil, 1 Muslim and 3 Sinhalese.
Brigadier Wanigasooriya pointed out that the Security Forces personnel were involved only in 11 incidents out of a total of 375 during the whole period from January 2007 to May 2012. As a percentage, the total accused is 5.6 percent in the conflict period and 3.3 percent in the post conflict period clearly showing a decline after the war.
"The decline clearly demonstrates that the allegation that the presence of the security forces in the North contributes to the insecurity of women and girls is a myth", Brigadier Wanigasooriya was quoted.
he Spokesman further noted that the government has taken legal action in all the cases the Security Forces personnel have been involved and those implicated have been discharged or punished.
He further said that the Sri Lankan military does not condone such actions by its troops against women and any perpetrators will be strictly punished if proven guilty.