Motherhood as a space of protest at Sri Lanka was described as a weakness of women

Aberamy Sivalogananthan
Posted March 17, 2012 from Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka on 1986 to 1991 there was a revolution against the Sri Lankan government by Janatha Vimuthi Peramuna (JVP) to step down the government from its power. Even though, the demand was for the government, but JVP violated people’s rights in deplorable way such as, killed the youth, kidnapped, and disappearances. For those critical situations where make all the civilians to fear on the state and they did not work as usual they were. Then all the mothers joined together to make the Sri Lanka’s situation stable, make sure their every youth have pleasant life and it led to mothers’ movement. To safe their future generation’s life, mothers’ choose to protect against the government with the help of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The Mothers’ Front created a space for them at Sri Lanka to find their children whoever disappeared during the revolution. I would like to argue that, ‘Malathi De Alwis’ text effectively demonstrates that, despite their resilience, the mothers in the Front were used by political parties and faced discrimination under male power. First, as Malathi de Alwis stated that, “It was in such a context that the Mothers’ Front, a grassroots women’s organization with an estimated membership of over 25,000 women was formed in July 1990 to protest the “disappearance” of approximately 60,000 young and middle-aged men (Alwis, 152). Above statement clearly shows the mothers’ motive to find their disappeared children, However, “within six months, branches of the Mothers’ Front were set up in ten other districts (often under the patronage of an SLFP Members of Parlimaent (MP) of that area) and the front’s membership increased 10 25,000 by 1992” (Alwis, 154). Which was clearly shows that Mothers’ Front was influent by political party and they have used by SLFP. In addition, when Deva Kannakawwa (the beseeching of the gods) took place at Kaliamman Kovil, mothers’ has greeted by locked gate and policeman were present on the spot; on that time MP Alavi Moulanna instructed them to break the gate of the temple. This shows how political parties influence the mothers’ and led them act in such terrible way. In addition to that, if the political party is really interest to help the mothers’ they could lead them in a legal way to get justice, rather than that they have led the mothers’ to organized rallies and other religious events which does not give any pressure to the government to take action against disappearances. I did not see any good motives of the political party assists or support to the mothers’. For example political party can record a case at Sri Lanka Supreme Court under human right violation or ask the help of the international support to end the issues rather than going for rallies or religious activities. The Sri Lankan political party used mothers’ front for their own intention, without notice mothers’ to grab the power of the government. Moreover, The SLFP gave financial support to the Mothers’ Front, and arranged rallies across Sri Lanka. All though the Mothers’ Front selected their office members for their activities, they had to lay down for their function and activities to SLFP parliament members. It shows how the political part has influenced the Mothers’ Front. Alwis also stated the same view, “The mothers’ Front women elected their own office bearers and ran their regional offices relatively autonomously, but remained under the control of their respective SLFP MP, s who provided much of their funding and office space” (Alwis, 163). Above event shows how they have planned to choose the mothers’ for their own purpose. Political party gave a key for their action, but at the same time they have controlled and got benefited from it. Second, in the mothers’ front women did not get the chance to coordinate the events, and it clearly shows the men domination over the women during the time. I want to emphasize an interesting point here that mothers’ front logo designed by a professional designer, Mr.Samaraweera, it demonstrates that even women did not get an option to design a logo for their own front assembly. Again, author brought another issue that “However, it was the events that were held in Colombo that made visible the SLFP/male dominance of the Mothers’ Front in the most blatant fashion” (Alwis, 163). I have a question, if the male dominate the women in the mothers’ front then what is the point “MOTHERS’ HOOD FRONT”, they could name the protect as “FATHERS’ HOOD”? According to my own opinion, I would say that this Front full of political purpose and male domination, so organize party could arrange fathers’ hood rather than arranging mothers’ hood. However, they were not able to do so. Cause, during the time threaten for men’s life, they did not directly take part in the rallies due to the situation. That was the reason mothers’ used for the rallies. Furthermore, when the second National Convention held on 23 June 1992, at Sri Lanka, during that time in the stage among 20 speakers only 8 were women. This made rest of the women to think that they have dominate by the male society. Over again, author supported to above view as, “This gender imbalance created a marked spatial hierarchy that was completely contradictory to the goal of a national convention” (Alwis, 164). Later on, mothers also started to see that though they had big hand of SLFP two women leading leader as Sirimavo Bandaranaike and her widow daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, but they did not response or did not act in a proper way to mothers’ front. Their absent of present in the main event made the mothers’ to disappoint on them and it obviously show the discrimination on women. Third, women in general known as weak, always cry for all small sensitive issues, and overall they have physically and mentally feeble. Adding to that the mothers’ front at Sri Lanka portray as a weakness of the women. On elaborate to that point, mothers’ tears and cruses used as a tool between SLFP and present government on that time. When mothers’ carried this kind of front they have identified as government as not good mothers and those mothers’ made the state to feel shame. For example, “Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of State for Defense, pontificated: “Mothers’ are not expected to stage demonstrations. Mothers’ should have looked after their children. They failed to do that. They did not know what their children were doing. They did not do that and now they are crying.” (Alwis, 156) Again which illustrate on his statement that women should stay at home, they are not capable to come out for the protes,t and they have one and only duty to take care of their family and children. In conclusion, I would like to state again that, mothers’ hood protect was not against the Sri Lankan government, it started with the motive of protect the people at Sri Lanka, but it has changed by the political leaders for their own benefits, in the front women dominated by men and the movement framed as weakness of women because of their tears and curses.


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