The Sex Lives Of Politicians
In Sri Lanka the third rail is sex. It’s an issue no one touches, like the electrified third rail on a railway. In Sri Lanka sex ‘scandals’ are simply not discussed. Extra-marital affairs, homosexuality, pre-marital rape, these all get brushed under the rug.
A politician’s sex life is their business, for better or worse.
Prominent members of the opposition are reportedly gay. Some are obviously homosexual, former fashion designers making gay jokes in Parliament. Some are simply effete and have no children. It is perhaps to our credit that people of this perfectly healthy and positive sexual orientation can serve in government, but it is to their discredit that these gay politicians do almost nothing for gay rights. It is to our national discredit that we seem to say it’s OK to be gay, as long as you get married to a woman. This is not an issue we face. It’s simply one we don’t touch.
These politicians, of course, are not the bad ones. There are those like R. Dumindha Silva who was charged with abduction and statutory rape, until those charges were dropped. Later he was charged with threatening the actress Anarkalee, till those charges were also dropped. In an advanced democracy, the mere hint of impropriety would force a politician to resign. In Colombo, he was the second highest vote getter, with the cases still pending. It’s like we don’t care what issues come up, as long as they go away.
In Sri Lankan politics no one has touched the third rail. Until Ranjan Ramanayake. In one shot, the actor MP Ranjan Ramanayake has put sex on the table, or at least, sexuality for money. Ranjan has been accused of defrauding a village teacher of Rs. 1 million by claiming to marry her. It’s not clear whether there is a legal basis or enforceable contract here, but he is in jail and he has not made bail.
Will this go the way of Dumindha Silva’s cases? He was in a storm or two until he crossed over to the government side. Alternately, will this go the way of Ranjan’s movies? Will he be crucified, cast aside until he returns to make his enemies pee in their pants, dispensing justice from his biceps?
Or, more likely, will we laugh for a while and then forget? Boys will be boys, men will be men, and politicians will be animals. We seem content to let that go. None of these scandals seem to provoke much interest in how women are treated in general.
There are countless stories like the Ranjan scandal reported by Ranee Mohammed in The Sunday Leader features section. The women are often laughed at in the comments online. Marital rape and abuse are common in Sri Lankan marriages. These women are counseled to return and try to make it work. The average woman reporting abuse in a police station is humiliated and made to wait. Indeed, an average woman cannot take the bus without harassment.
Perhaps we don’t look at the sex lives of politicians because we don’t want to look at ourselves. So, sex remains the third rail of Sri Lankan politics. Look, but don’t touch.