The Sunday Leader’s cartoon of a grease yaka. Looks remarkably like Mervyn Silva
The intrepid Navin Weeraratne attended the Women And Media press conference on Grease Yakas and filed this Facebook report. I post verbatim. Like his prior piece on Uzbek hookers, the credit goes to him. I talked to him on the phone and it seems that WAM is still not really reporting data or first-hand accounts. However laudably, they’re still tacking their agenda onto a still unexplained phenomenon.
As a note, Halik Azeez of The Sunday Leader is in Trinco now. He said:
Spoke to a victim of a grease yaka attack. Visited another’s house. The attacks seem real. And well organized. Recon, ambush and getaway
going around with a local posse. Strangers are in near mortal danger here. Don’t lol
Anyways, here’s Navin:
Violent attacks against women in rural areas in Sri Lanka, has recently become a big issue in the news.
The villagers are saying that these attacks are by “Grease Yakkas” or Grease Devils — a man who is trying to kill 99 women and offer up their blood in sacrifice, in exchange for great power (vedic-style rituals die hard in South Asia).
Colombo is having a blast with this, making fun of the villagers for their hysteria (can you blame them? I’m doing it too).
WMC are annoyed about this, because they’re worried people are not taking the underlying issue of violence against women seriously. I would argue though that any media attention is good media attention, because more people are talking about this now than there would be otherwise.
Now that the war is over, its nice that we can focus on putting our house in order.
The first question and I think most important question that came up, was what data did they have on this? What stats do they have, and does this show that there is a real uptick in violence, or has the issue just caught popular attention — and been sensationalized?
WMC was very upfront about this — they have no real data. They cannot tell us the scope of the problem, because they simply do not know.
To their credit, they did point out though that whether or not their is a rise in murders or not, people in the rural areas are shitting themselves and women are afraid to step out at night. Growing problem or not, people are worried.
The media were criticized for trivialising the issue and focusing on the paranoid yokel response.
Speaking for the yokels, the GY phenomenon is how the villagers are dealing with violence against women — the time honored mechanism of creating bogeymen figures, and then going out and lynching likely prospects.
WMC was not too impressed with Witch Hunting, and argued that part of why this response has happened is because people in these areas clearly do not feel that law enforcement can take care of the issue.
Law enforcement was criticized for not being up to scratch, for not getting more data and stats, and for not being approachable to the communities.
There was lots of talk of wanting “impartial investigation”. This seems to be NGOese for saying the government is in some way involved.
There are two ways of looking at this. One is that I’ll take that allegation seriously, when they open their mouths and make the allegation. If you want rumors and scapegoating, the villagers do it better and with much more style.
The other way to look at this, is to understand that if they actually have info that implicates soldiers, police, paramilitaries or politicos, they are not going to feel great about sharing it. I was an intern at one of his offices when Neelan Tiruchelvam was killed, and I became a lot less judgemental after that, of people who would rather not risk their lives for HR reporting and activism.
They had a couple of survivors (Tamil ladies from Ampara) talk about how they survived an attack.
– It is unclear if this is just violence sensationalized, or an actual uptick in violence.
– People, especially single women/mothers are certainly afraid in rural areas.
– We really ought to be better set up to deal with problems like this.