Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Are Sri Lankan Officers Ordering Soldiers to Sexually Assault Tamil Detainees?

| Nov. 16, 2017

Last week, the Associated Press published an explosive report documenting more than 50 Tamil men’s allegations that Sri Lanka’s security forces sexually assaulted and tortured them. Their accounts of gang rape, sexual humiliation, and penetration with barbed wire are supported by medical records and psychiatric evaluations. The details are stomach-turning. The news broke at an inconvenient time for Sri Lanka, which is up for its Universal Periodic Review at the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. The government delegation’s assurances of a “zero tolerance policy” on torture sat awkwardly alongside reports of abuses so shocking that one career human rights investigator described them as “the most egregious and perverted that I’ve ever seen.”

But it’s not just the brutality of the assaults that stands out; it’s their routine nature. Because, unsettlingly, these allegations are not anomalous. In 2016, the British organization Freedom from Torture reported that 71 percent of its predominantly male Tamil clients said they had been raped or endured other sexual torture. Given the stigma that conservative Tamil culture attaches to rape, male victims have a strong incentive to remain silent about such crimes. The actual incidence is likely to be even higher than the reported rate.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Cronin-Furman, Kate."Are Sri Lankan Officers Ordering Soldiers to Sexually Assault Tamil Detainees?" The Washington Post, November 16, 2017.

The Author