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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Wake Up! It’s time for Gender Parity not Patriarchy

DIG Bimshani Jasingha Arachchi

ECONOMYNEXT – In filing a Fundamental Rights petition against the appointment of a woman officer to the post of Acting Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), the thirty-two aggrieved Senior Superintendents of Police have placed the spotlight on a glaringly discriminatory practice in the country’s police department.

The petition which is to be heard on May 18 states that the appointment of Bimshani Jasin Arachchi as the Police Departments first female DIG violates the standard procedures followed in the promotion of senior police officers. The petitioners, all males, also claim that Jasin Arachchi’s appointment is irregular as the provisions that allow for the appointment of DIG’s do not include the word ‘woman.’

And that indeed is the crux of the matter; that the police department has, up to date, failed to address this anomaly which does not allow women police officers to rise beyond an SSP.

The petition has naturally caused quite a stir, not only amongst women, but amongst the general public who uphold the right to equal access and equity between genders. The United National Party it was reported was standing with Jasin Arachchi, while female parliamentarians crossed party lines to express their support for the woman DIG.

According to a Sunday Times article published soon after her appointment as DIG in September 2020, Jasin Aarachchi had, in the year 2000 been denied a promotion to Assistant Superintendent of Police, even though she had cleared both the exam and interview, because she was slightly shorter than the requisite height. The article which profiles her period with the police, from her recruitment as a Sub Inspector 1997 states that she had fought and won that battle in the courts.

One wonders whether police recruiters missed the fact that she lacked the height requirement, when she was first hired to the police force!

Her appeal to the National Police Commission saw her appointment as an ASP being backdated to December 31, 2007. While the case meandered through the courts, other female cadre who had risen through the ranks were also appointed as ASP’s but their letters had been dated January 1, 2008, making her their senior.

Then, swiftly promoted to SP and SSP between 2016 and 2019, she was appointed Acting Deputy Inspector General and assigned a field position in 2020. The quick promotions meant she has not met the required number of years a police officer must serve in the ranks of SP and SSP, therefore making her ineligible to be made a full DIG, the report states.

And now she faces yet another battle, brought about by some of her male colleagues.

The Sri Lanka police first recruited women to the force in 1952 states the Police Website. And here we are today, sixty-nine years since that first woman was recruited, with no provision within police regulations for women to go beyond the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police. Had Jasin Arachchi not been appointed to the post of Acting DIG, her male colleagues and superiors would have been quite happy to continue with the status quo.

The National Police Commission meanwhile has attempted to address the imbalance of cadres in the Police Department. With a plan to ensure both genders are better represented in the Police, the Commission had made provision to increase the female cadre in the Force from 11 to 15 per cent beginning January 1, 2019. Explaining the reason, the NPC website states that this policy had been launched to ‘ …..ensure that there were more female police officers who could deal with issues specific to women and children. Another reason for this increase was also to even the promotions given to both men and women.”

Obviously, the Commission had noticed the discrepancies in terms of gender balance and the need to address it. Moreover, the contention of the petitioners that police regulations do not include the word ‘woman’ when appointing DIG’s, does not seem to have been seen as a drawback by NPC.

To begin with, why is it necessary that the regulations allowing promotions or appointments to the position of DIG should include the word ‘woman’? Should it not be a given that irrespective of one’s gender, one could hold the topmost position of the department as long as the required education, experience and ability etc. are met?

Sri Lankans are proud of producing the world’s first woman Prime Minister, even though Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected to that highest office of the land, following the death of her husband. If education and experience were the criteria to be elected to that office, she pretty much had little of either, having been suddenly thrust into the role of being the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and then the Prime Minister. And, when she and her daughter, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) were elected to those positions, did the rules and regulations of this country include the word ‘woman’, thereby clearing the way for them both? What of the many other high positions women in this country hold? Are those clearly marked as cadres for ‘women’? We have women holding the positions of Governors of Provinces, Mayors and Chairpersons of Local Government, Heads of Department and School Principals to name just a few. So, why not in the Police Force? CBK as she is popularly known was the fourth woman in the world to be elected president, and the first woman to hold the post of Executive President. If we are to go by the argument put forth by the petitioners, then neither mother nor daughter would ever have had the opportunity of becoming Heads of Government!

Of course, Sri Lankans never miss the opportunity of reminding the world Sri Lanka holds the first place in electing a woman as Prime Minister, and that too way back in 1960, each time a woman is appointed to a similar high office in some other country. US Vice President Kamala Harris’s election was one such, even though our numbers of women politicians is dismally low.

Perhaps the police department has forgotten, or would rather prefer not to know that Sri Lanka’s women were amongst the first in Asia to win the right to vote. And that was way back in 1931!

The petitioners, according to media reports is seeking a revocation of Jasin Arachchi’s appointment as DIG, claiming that it violates their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Public time and money would have been better spent if the petitioners fought to win the right of their women colleagues to be treated on equal footing and afforded equal opportunities. If they believe their fundamental rights are being violated, the same argument holds for all women deprived of aspiring to hold any high office, not just in the police force.

The police department and the rest of society that fails to accept gender parity needs to get over their patriarchal attitude at least now; wake up, it is 2021! (Colombo, February 22, 2021)

By Kshama Ranawana Courtesy

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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