SLMA to presidential candidates: Help fight university ragging

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) requested all presidential candidates today to condemn ragging in universities and, upon assuming office, take measures to curb the practice with the utmost urgency.

Writing to all candidates, the SLMA said the physical, sexual and emotional violence that is currently taking place in all universities in Sri Lanka, in the guise of ‘ragging’, is reflective of the degree of violence, hate and abuse escalating in Sri Lankan society.

“Unless we address this immediately, the consequences to society and to our younger generations will be very grave. For instance, when there’s evidence that some male students are tortured by crushing their testicles by slamming them inside a drawer or when students are made to strip naked and to lie on top of each other, packed like sardines in a confined space, one could only conclude that we are in the midst of a serious and tragic societal crisis,” it said.

The SLMA urged the next president of Sri Lanka to take immediate action with regard to the following:

  1. Publicly condemn and renounce all forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence in universities and genuinely pledge to take remedial action no sooner you take office.
  2. Invite all Vice Chancellors with Deans, for a discussion on the atrocities taking place in their universities. Describe with pictorial and other evidence, this extremely disturbing situation. Emphasise the absolute importance of being responsible and accountable for violence within their respective institution.
  3. Develop a scheme of rewards for university academics, Deans and Vice Chancellors who pro-actively denounce violence in any form. And, who demonstrably take action to eliminate violence, to be rewarded academically and nationally through honours or other mechanisms. Whereas for academics who are complacent whilst knowing that violence continues to be meted out to freshers, appropriate action to be taken. This mechanism to be woven into the academics’ key performance indicators (KPIs) structure with necessary penalties as well as rewards.
  4. Ensure that the authorities overseeing university education (including the Minister, Deputy Minister, and the UGC) are fully empowered to initiate inquiries and to take violence-related disciplinary processes to completion so that they can work with the Police and all relevant institutions without any form of interference – political or otherwise.
  5. Enable the development of a robust Victim Protection System and a Witness Protection System so that complaints can be made by those affected, sans fear of intimidation.

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