Are Female Politicians Treated As Equals At Parliament?

November 11, 2016

We always talk about electing women to the parliament. We always boast about our first female prime minister.  Provisions are taken to make more women participate in elections. But have we ever considered what happen to these elected women.

Women are ill-treated and sexually harassed seldom in Sri Lanka. Hardly a proper seminar conducted regarding these issues. This is common among both government and private institutions. Remember, sexual harassment law is beyond inappropriate touching. All most all women verbally sexually harassed at one point.

Back to topic about our elected female politicians. We have only handful of women in the parliament. Even they are not able to conduct a proper job. Why aren’t they successful as we expect? This can be addressed through several issues. Firstly, sexual harassment. Secondly, most elected male members treat them as non-equals. Last but not least, they are overshadowed by their fellow members. 

In last few weeks former MP Upeksha Swarnamali and former minister Rosi Senanayake expressed their experience regarding this issue. Both may be different in age, one is an actress and the other a former beauty queen. Both have been asked for sexual favors by their colleagues, undermined and publicly verbally harassed at the parliament. If you are not allowed to propose a bill to the parliament just because other male PMs think that since you are a woman and weak, what kind of ethics are we talking about?

Members of the Parliament are elected by both men and women voters. Parliament is our symbol of democracy. This may not be the first thing that you feel not very democratic about our parliament. Nevertheless, if some of elected members are harassed and not allowed to do their job at the very heart of democracy, we should take a step back think about our democratic norms.  Shouldn’t we? 


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