Responding to Covid-19 and Gender-Based Violence in Sri Lanka

Program Year: 2020

By Roshan Shajehan, Viranga Perera, and Chiara Wijetunga

As this nation’s long and frustrating Covid-19 curfew wore on, The Asia Foundation worked with the Sri Lanka Police to formulate sensitive and effective responses to domestic and gender-based violence, even though maintaining access to basic services continued to be a challenge for both survivors and the police. 

With support from the British High Commission, and in partnership with the Police Service of Scotland, The Asia Foundation has redirected several ongoing projects to protect frontline police personnel and local administrations from the coronavirus in the six districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Jaffna, Matara, Moneragala, and Kandy. To keep Women and Children’s Desks safely in operation at police stations, the Foundation has so far provided 50 handwashing stations, 1,500 basic hygiene kits, and information handouts on Covid-19 hygiene to 40 police stations and district police superintendent offices, and 10 divisional secretariats.

We have also been working with our community-based partners in these districts—Women In Need, the Rural Economic and Community Development Organization, Group Action for Social Order, the Kandurata Community Development Foundation, the Vehilihini Development Centre, and the Institute for Development of Community Strengths—to build public awareness of domestic and gender-based violence and provide support services to survivors. This includes designing and distributing materials such as posters, leaflets, and pamphlets, launching mobile public announcement campaigns to advertize survivor services, and setting up telephone helplines to refer survivors to service providers.

The Foundation has also been working to keep our local partners safe by developing mandatory safety guidelines, staying in close communication, and holding weekly online discussions. While it is still early to assess the outcome of this assistance, the Foundation continues to collect data to help us review our progress and refine our response.

Related locations: Sri Lanka