Tuesday`s suicide attack on EPDP leader and Minister Douglas Devananda, by a woman suicide cadre, coincided with the highly publicized UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
A 16-day programme to urge protection for women got underway last Sunday with Ena Singh, chairperson of Gender-Based Violence Forum (GBV), calling for support for an international campaign to eliminate violence against women.
The GBV launched a major media campaign titled `Men too, can make a difference. Say NO to Violence Against Women,` at the BMICH
Unfortunately, the group which includes UNFPA, Oxfam, Care, CIDA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, ILO, UNDP and National Peace Council among 20 organisations, have turned a blind eye to the deployment of women suicide cadres, in some instances to target women as in the case of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, security sources said.
Sarawanan Sujantha of Anandapuliyankulam in Vavuniya, who had at least 200 gms of high explosives wrapped around her breasts, triggered what an investigator called a premature explosion which killed 72-year-old Stephen Peiris, an officer attached to the Minister Devananda`s Public Relations Department.
The suicide bomber, dressed in saree, who was said to be either a victim of Polio or someone who pretended to be so, had entered the ministerial office at 7.55 a.m. but the security at the entrance hadn`t bothered to check her since she appeared handicapped.
The GBV totally ignored the growing LTTE practice of turning women into human bombs. Strangely, the day before the GBV`s media launch, the LTTE announced that 93 women were among 343 suicide cadres killed in action. The attempt on the life of Devananda was made three days later and interestingly it was the second time a woman suicide cadre tried. The first suicide attempt was made in July 2005 by a cadre who had been employed as a servant by the son of a former UNP Minister. The `human bomb` had been at the Battaramulla residence of the unsuspecting man who himself had contested the last general elections unsuccessfully.
Women activists were rather reluctant to comment on the increasing use of women to carry out suicide attacks. According to the statistics released by the LTTE, the day before the GBV launch, 18,881 personnel had been killed since November 1982. Although it did not reveal the exact number of women killed, the military said that at least one third of the total dead were women. Two women activists, who acknowledged that the use of women, some of them forcibly recruited child soldiers, was despicable, politely declined to be quoted.