Sri Lanka creates panel to stem sexual abuse of women

Sri Lanka will set up a special panel to tackle widespread sexual abuse and exploitation of women including thousands of war widows, the government said Wednesday.

The establishment of a new National Commission on Women comes amid warnings that women from the Tamil minority face widespread sexual exploitation by officials in their own community as well as from the military.

The commission will have powers of prosecution, said the government in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s former president Chandrika Kumaratunga said last week that women faced sexual abuse from local officials, with those widowed during the 37-year conflict particularly at risk.

Many have struggled in the war’s aftermath to obtain identity papers and birth certificates, which are essential to obtain government handouts and other aid.

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