ගබ්සාව මානව අයිතිවාසිකමකි. Abortion is a human right.

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(Original image from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155530544305185)

ආරක්ෂිත හා නීත්යානුකූල ගබ්සාව සඳහා මානව අයිතිවාසිකම ගැන සටන වෙනුවන් මේ දවස්වල හඬනගන සහෘදයන් දැක්කම මගේ හිතට ලොකු හයියක් ආවා. ඔවුන් සමහරක් බෙදා හරින මේ පෝස්ටරයට මම සංශෝධන කිහිපයක් කරා. හේතුව අපේ මේ සටනේ මූලික හේතු මතක් කරගන්නයි.

ස්තී්ර දූෂණය, බාලවයස්කාර වීම, මාරාන්තික ආබාධ සහිත කලලයක් සහ ගැබිනි මවකගේ ජීවිතයට අනතුරුදායකත්වය වනි කරුණු ගබ්සාවට වලංගු හේතු සාධක තමයි. නමුත් කාන්තාවකට ගබ්සාවක් කරගන්න කොන්දේසි අවශ්ය විය යුතු නෑ. ශ්රී ලංකාවේ සහ ලෝකය පුරා ගබ්සා කිරීමට ලොකුම හේතුව වන්නේ අනවශ්ය ගැබ් ගැනීම්. අනවශ්ය වෙන්න හේතු මොනාද? ඉහත සඳහන් හේතු සාධකත් ඇතුලත් හැබැයි වඩාත් පොදු හේතු මෙසේය. ඇයට තවත් දරුවන් අවශ්ය නොවීම, ඇයට දරුවන් එක්කෙනෙක්වත් අවශ්ය නොවීම, ඇය තවත් ළමයෙකු සඳහා තාමත් සූදානම් නොවීම, ඇය ප්‍රථම දරුවා ලැබීමට තවමත් සූදානම් නොවීම, ඇයට ස්ථාවර සම්බන්ධතාවයක් නොතිබීම, ගැබ් ගැනීම ඇයගේ අධ්යාපනයට හෝ රැකියාවට බාධාවක් වීම හා මේ වගේ බොහෝ හේතු. මේවා පිටුපස බොහෝවිට මූල්යමය, චිත්තවේගාත්මක, ශාරීරික සාධක තියෙනව.

නිදසුනක් වශයෙන් ශ්රී ලංකාව තුළ සෑම දිනකම අවම වශයෙන් ගබ්සාවන් 700 ක් සිදු කරන බව ඇස්තමේන්තු කර තියෙන අතර නියම සංඛ්යාව මීටත් වැඩි බව ඇස්තමේන්තු කරනවා. ගබ්සාවන් ලබාගන්න කාන්තාවන්ගෙන් බහුතරයක් විවාහකයි (සමහර ඇස්තමේන්තු අනුව 94% ක පමණ). ඔවුන් ගබ්සා කරගන්න ප්රධාන හේතු ආර්ථික අස්ථායීතාවය සහ තවත් දරුවන්ට අවශ්ය නොවීම. ලංකාවේ මේ හේතුවලට ගබ්සා කිරීම නීති විරෝධී නිසා අනාරක්ෂිත ගබ්සා සිදු වෙනව. අනාරක්ෂිත ගබ්සා මාතෘ මරණවලට දායක වන සාධකයක්. ඉහළ ආදායම් ලබන ගෘහ ඒකකවල කාන්තාවන්ට ඔවුන්ගේ ගැබ්ගැනීම් ආරක්ෂිත (නමුත් නීතිවිරෝධී) ආකාරයෙන් අවසන් කරන්න හැකියාව සහ මුදල් තියෙනව. හැබයි මධ්යම සහ අඩු ආදායම්ලාභී ගෘහස්ථයන්ගෙන් කාන්තාවන් බොහෝ දෙනෙක්ට වෙන්නෙ අනාරක්ෂිත සහ නීති විරෝධී ගබ්සා කරගන්න. ඒවායින් බොහෝ විට මරණය හෝ දිගුකාලීන ආබාධිත තත්වයන් ඇති වෙනව. ගබ්සාව නීත්යානුකූල කලොත් ඔනෑම කාන්තාවකට අනවශ්ය ගැබ්ගැනීමක් හේතු සහ කොන්දේසි රහිතව නීත්යානුකූලව, ආරක්ෂිතව හා දැරිය හැකි මිලකට කර ගත හැකි වෙයි.

කෙටියෙන් කිව්වොත් ගබ්සාවක් කරගන්න අවශ්ය එකම හේතුව අනවශ්ය ගැබ් ගැනීමක්. ගබ්සාවක් කිරීමේ තීරණය ගත යුත්තේ ගැබ්ගත් කාන්තාව පමණක් හෝ ඇය විසින් අදාළයි කියා සිතන කෙනෙකුත් සමග විතරයි. වෙන කිසිම කෙනෙක්ගේ අනුමැතිය අවශ්ය නොවිය යුතුයි. ගබ්සාව නීතිගත කලා කියල හැම කාන්තාවකටම ගබ්සා ලබාගන්න අවශ්ය වෙන්නෙ නෑ. අවම වශයෙන් ගබ්සාව සමග එකඟ වෙන්න ඕනෙවත් නෑ (ආගමික විශ්වාසයන්, සදාචාරආත්මක පදනම් වගේ හේතු මත). ගබ්සාව නීතිගත කරන්නේ ගබ්සාවක් අවශ්ය ඕනෑම කෙනෙකුට එය කොන්දේසි විරහිතව තෝරාගන්න ලැබීමයි. අපි එම තෝරා ගැනීමේ සහ තීරණ ගැනීමේ අයිතිය වෙනුවෙන් තමයි හඬ නගන්නේ.

These past few days it’s felt truly encouraging to feel less alone in this struggle for safe and legal abortion. More allies are speaking up and taking action. This is a poster that has been circulating among such allies and I made a few edits to remind ourselves what it is we are fighting for. Rape, being a minor, foetus with lethal congenital malformation and danger to a pregnant woman’s life are all valid reasons to abort a foetus. But a woman should not need to “make a case” for why she needs an abortion. In Sri Lanka and all over the world, the reason women want the right and the choice to have an abortion is because a pregnancy is unwanted. Reasons? They could be any of those mentioned above but most often it’s because; she doesn’t want more children, she doesn’t want any children, she’s not ready for another child, she’s not ready for her first child, she’s not in a stable relationship, a pregnancy would interfere with her education or employment and many such reasons, most often based on financial, emotional and physical factors.

For an example, in Sri Lanka it is estimated that at least 700 abortions are performed each day (the actual figures are estimated to be much higher). Majority of women who undergo abortions are married (a staggering 94% by some estimates) and the main reasons for abortion are economic instability and not wanting more children. Since abortion is not legal in Sri Lanka for these reasons, women resort to illegal and often unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortion is a contributing factor to maternal deaths in Sri Lanka because while women from higher income households often have access and money to terminate their pregnancies in safe (but illegal) ways, women from middle and lower income households end up going to “backdoor abortionists”, often resulting in death or lifelong disabilities. Decriminalizing abortion would mean the women who want to abort unwanted pregnancies (for whatever reason(s)) can access them legally, safely and in an affordable and unstigmatized way.

The bottomline is, a woman should not have to list reasons why she wants an abortion and most definitely doesn’t need approval or “sign off” from anyone she doesn’t want involved in the decision. Decriminalizing abortion doesn’t mean anyone is then compelled to have an abortion or even be pro-abortion, should it be against their religious beliefs, morals, etc. Decriminalizing abortion means anyone has an unconditional CHOICE to have an abortion if they want one. We are fighting for the right to have that choice.

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Paraya: A short review

I (along with three others) was invited by The Sunday Times to write a short review of Paraya, the latest production by the Mind Adventures theatre company. It was published on the Mirror Magazine and you can find it at http://www.sundaytimes.lk/131006/magazine/hit-by-paraya-64620.html

I’m reproducing my review here.

Mind Adventures is one of the few reasons (another being Ruwanthie De Chickera’s Stages Theatre Group) I still patronize English language theatre productions in Sri Lanka. While I’m a huge fan of Broadway musicals, it is heartening that there are theatre companies that strive towards originality, pushing beyond rehashing musicals. However, originality can come in many forms and what makes Mind Adventures stand out is the intelligence in their productions. They make you think for days after and in the case of Paraya, I’ll be thinking for weeks and months.

At the abandoned Hotel Rio, Mind Adventures created an alternate world that was at the same time very familiar. From the moment you stepped into this space, the apprehension that “anything could happen” was palpable. Starting from little details like the unsmiling ushers sternly asking us to stay in line at the gate, the cast did an excellent job in ensuring that this atmosphere was maintained throughout the production though I felt the audience was not so helpful at times.

I wish the number of audience members could have been limited to about 50-60 but understandably there may be logistical and financial challenges in doing so. It was clear that most audience members were unprepared for Paraya and their confusion and lack of engagement diminished the intensity of the production. Personal conversations, trying to locate friends, etc. took away from the atmosphere and space that Mind Adventures had created both with their acting as well as with the choice of location, props, lighting, etc. This will probably be remedied with time as audiences become more familiar with nontraditional forms of theatre because for many it was their first experience of immersive theatre including myself.

Having seen Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke on stage, I was curious about his work as a Director. While there were some technical glitches, the Director, cast and crew should be lauded for the military precision in the simultaneous execution of the scenes that melded into one production.

I can’t speak about each actor within my word limit but out of the characters I followed that night, Ruvin de Silva’s Rajiv Kurukulasuriya deserves special mention. I got the chance to engage with this character and to watch certain scenes up close and I was in awe of how Ruvin lived and breathed Rajiv without breaking character even for a second.

When I finally stepped out of Hotel Rio, it was with a familiar feeling. I had witnessed and heard horrific things happening around me whether it was censorship or militarization or torture. By not speaking out and by staying under the radar, I had come out unscathed. Unscathed but with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that is still lingering.

Photo by Brandon Ingram (from the Facebook event page)Image

Silent Victims

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“Silent Victims” at the entrance to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

Felt that this was fitting for the crisis that our country (Sri Lanka) is going through right now, although I wonder how many actually consider it to be a crisis.

http://groundviews.org/2013/01/13/an-unprecedented-constitutional-crisis-in-sri-lanka-elicits-a-yawn/

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Morning Puja at Koneswaram

A few months ago we visited Koneswaram just before sunrise, only to find out that we were on time for the morning puja (in fact even the priests arrived after us!). It was a surreal experience, with all the rituals, the sounds of different bells and chants, the colours and the devotees. These are some of the photos I captured in all my excitement. It was definitely worth waking up early for and completely different from my previous visit in the middle of the day.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koneswaram_temple

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sachini-perera/

All rights reserved by the photographer. These images cannot be used, copied, displayed or downloaded from this site without permission from copyright holder.

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The Ceylon Traveller – Magul Maha Viharaya, Lahugala

Originally published in The Sunday Leader on 01/04/2012 (http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/04/01/the-ceylon-traveller-magul-maha-viharaya-lahugala/)

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I visited Magul Maha Viharaya in Lahugala back in 2009. It is yet another place that has so much history behind it and lots of interesting tidbits but isn’t flaunting any of it, preferring to exist quietly.

Lahugala is ten miles inland off the East Coast town of Pottuvil, an area believed to have been part of the Ruhunu kingdom. It is home to several tanks, beautiful green vegetation, a National Park (with a good chance of seeing elephants frolicking near the road) and the Magul Maha Viharaya, which is also known as Ruhunu Maha Viharaya.

During the war, many civilians from adjoining villages had left the area for safety and it is only now that the temple is once again being patronized regularly and is visited by pilgrims and tourists.

The history of the temple is a bit muddled and there are different versions on how it came about to be. One is that it was built by King Dathusena who ruled the Anuradhapura kingdom from 516 AD to 526 AD. There is a stone inscription at the site that dates back to the 14th century, which proclaims thus. This is also supported by the fact that the architecture of the temple,  especially the stone pillars, is very similar to the architecture of the Anuradhapura era.

Another version is that it was built by King Kavantissa in the 2nd century BC on the location where the King married Princess Vihara Maha Devi. Supporters of this claim that one of the ancient ruins found at the premises are the foundation of the “Magul maduwa” where the wedding ceremony took place. This is sometimes dismissed as folklore and it is said that the actual location where the wedding took place is the nearby Muhudu Maha Viharaya at Arugam Bay.

Regardless of its founding, it is evident as soon as you enter the Magul Maha Viharaya that it is a valuable ancient ruin with beautiful and sometimes unusual architecture. It had clearly been a thriving institution with the site currently spanning to about 10,000 acres with ruins of a palace, moonstone, monastery, stupa, ponds, etc.

The most interesting element I came across at Magul Maha Viharaya was the moonstone. At first glance it looks just the moonstones you may see at other temples but upon close inspection, it is most unusual and is supposedly the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka. What makes it stand apart is the fact that every fourth elephant in the line of elephants in the moonstone (elephants are a regular feature on moonstones) has a mahout on its back. This is a highly unusual feature but so far I have not been able to find out if there is an explanation for this.

Other ruins found at the premises include the remains of a stupa, the remains of a structure which is called the “Magul Maduwa”, ponds, etc. These are decorated with carvings such as the one shown in the photo of the face of a monkey. It is notable that most of these carvings are very basic and lack the intricacies of carvings from later eras. This again confirms that the founding of the Magul Maha Viharaya goes back to very ancient times.

The Ceylon Traveller – Kantharodai, Jaffna

Originally published in The Sunday Leader on 18/03/2012 (http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/03/18/the-ceylon-traveller-kantharodai-kadurugoda/)

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It’s always pleasant to detour during a trip and stumble upon a place you had never heard of before.

Kantharodai in Jaffna (also known as Kadurugoda) is such a place and as you can see from the photos, it is surreal to go to Jaffna and come across so many dagobas in a town more famous for its Hindu architecture.

Since it’s not a place I had read about or knew about and because there was no information available there from the Department of Archaeology, this edition of Ceylon Traveller will feature information sourced from the internet.

 

Kandarodai (Tamil: கந்தரோடை, Kadiramalai Tamil: கதிரமலை or Kandurugoda – literal Sinhala translation of Kadiramalai[1] Sinhala: කඳුරුගොඩ) a small hamlet and archaeological site of Chunnakam town is a suburb in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. Known as Kadiramalai (from Kudiramalai) in the ancient period, the area served as a famous emporium city and capital of Tamil kingdoms in the Jaffna peninsula of North Eastern Ceylon from classical antiquity. Located near a world famous port at that time, Kandarodai was the first site the Archaeology Department in Sri Lanka excavated in the Jaffna peninsula.

Black and red ware Kanterodai potsherd Tamil Brahmi scripts from 300 BCE excavated with Roman coins, early Pandyan coins, early Chera Dynasty coins from the emporium Karur punch-marked with images of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi from 500 BCE, punch-marked coins called puranas from 6th-5th century BCE India, and copper ‘kohl’ sticks similar to those used by the Egyptians in 2000 B.C found in Uchhapannai, Kandarodai indicate active transoceanic maritime trade between ancient Jaffna Tamils and other continental kingdoms in the prehistoric period. The parallel third century BCE discoveries of Maanthai, Anaikoddai and Vallipuram detail the arrival of a megalithic culture in Jaffna long before the Buddhist-Christian era and the emergence of rudimentary settlements that continued into early historic times marked by urbanization.[2] The chief Pittan-Korran of Kudiramalai further south, a commander-in-chief of the Chera king, administered the locality under the Chera kingdom from the 1st century BCE – 1st century CE and is described at length in the Purananuru.[3]

A group of Dagobas situated close together at the site served as a monastery for Tamil monks and reflect the rise in popularity of Buddhism amongst Jaffna Tamils and the Tamils of the ancient Tamil country in the first few centuries of the common era before the revivalism of Hinduism amongst the population.[4] Recent excavations of Sivaganams in the stupas suggest Tamil Hindus also worshipped at the site. The domes were reconstructed atop the flat bases of the ruins by the Archaeology Department. The similarities between the finds of ancient Jaffna and Tamil Nadu are indicators of a continuous cultural exchange between the two regions from classical antiquity.[5] These structures built over burials demonstrate the integration of Buddhism with Megalithism, a hallmark of Tamil Buddhism. Outside Andhra Pradesh in India, Kanterodai is perhaps the only site where such burials are seen.

In 1970, the University of Pennsylvania museum team excavated a ceramic sequence remarkably similar to that of Arikamedu, with a Pre-rouletted ware period, subdivided into an earlier “Megalithic”, a later “Pre-rouletted ware phase,” followed by a “Rouletted ware period”. Tentatively assigned to the fourth century BCE, radio carbon dating later confirmed an outer date of the ceramics and Megalithic cultural commencement in Kandarodai to 1300 BCE.[6] Further excavations have been conducted by the University of Jaffna.

The Yalpana Vaipava Malai also describes the rich port of Kadiramalai in the ancient period.

From – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandarodai

Where is it?

Near Chunnakam, West of the main Jaffna-Kankesanturai Road.