The Sunday Leader

Breakthrough In Kowdarmunie Rape Case

  • A suspect has been identified by the Police and DNA tests are underway to implicate rapists
    of a 43 year old woman in a remote village in Killinochchi district.

By Camelia Nathaniel - Reporting from Kowdarmunie in Pooneryn, Killinochchi

A 43 year-old mother of three daughters aged 22, 12 and 10, from Pooneryn, Kilinochchi, was brutally raped recently by two unidentified men while she was on her way to cut palmyrah leaves to weave her mats. She is a resident of Kowdarmunie – a remote village in Pooneryn. Her first husband had left her with the children and married another woman.

Unable to sustain the family by herself she got involved with another man and was living with him until he was imprisoned for an involvement in a brawl. She weaves mats which earns her an income of around Rs. 250/= per mat. The life she spends at present is difficult and full of challenges. Her frail body and withered appearance is ample evidence of the hardships and challenges she has had to endure.

I was on my way to the Kowdarmunie village with my colleague to inquire into the difficulties faced by the residents there when I noticed an ambulance approaching us. We managed to stop the ambulance and the health official told us that the rape victim was being taken for a checkup and an injection that was due that day. Having sought her approval she narrated the horrific day that had devastated her whole life and that of her children.

On August 13, 2013 she went in to the bush behind her small tent house to find palmyra leaves. “Around 3pm that evening, after having prepared the children’s meals, I went to the jungle behind my house to gather palmyra leaves. I had gathered some leaves, piled them in one spot and went to gather more leaves. As I was bending to pick up the leaves, someone approached me from behind and covered my eyes and mouth. Just then another person grabbed my legs and they dragged me to the ground. I was terrified, and felt a bit faintish while I realized that I was being raped,” she said.

She was warned

On the same day, before the horrific incident took place, a man from the village Samuel (real name withheld to protect his identity) had come to her home and told her not to go to the same area that she usually goes to gather the palmyra leaves, but to instead go in the opposite direction. “Subsequently when I realized what had happened to me I was still in a daze, but I noticed two men running away and I noticed the same man Samuel too. I dragged myself from that spot where I was lying and tried to get away as I was afraid that they would come back or try to kill me. The pain was excruciating but somehow I crawled toward the village. Then I saw Samuel bare bodied cutting leaves. My body was drenched in blood, but somehow I staggered to the village and collapsed,” she recalled.

Later, she was evacuated to Pooneryn and thereafter to Kilinochchi Hospital for further treatment by the Army troops in the area with the assistance of villagers who informed the army at a nearby camp regarding this incident. She had to undergo three surgeries and medical treatment for nearly two weeks due to extensive injuries suffered at the hands of her brutal rapists.
Suspect allegedly involved in
LTTE abductions

The Pooneryn police commenced investigations into the incident immediately after they were informed. However, the instant this incident was reported, certain politicians blamed the Army troops for the incident without any evidence or substantial information to prove the allegations. Their accusations were based on information that the two persons who raped this innocent woman were wearing green coloured t-shirts. During several political rallies too the TNA stated that the army soldiers had committed the offence.

However, the incident leading to this crime took a new turn with the discharge of the victim from the Kilinochchi Hospital on August 30. On her return she has revealed the details of the perpetrators identity. She had told her brother that Samuel and another person around 25 years of age, who is unknown to her, are the ones who committed the crime. When asked why she didn’t reveal these details earlier, she said that she was confused and under extreme mental agony – unable to imagine what had happened to her. “In fact, Samuel came to see me twice at the Kilinochchi Hospital and threatened me not to reveal his identity,” as if she did, there could be serious ramifications.

According to the villagers, Samuel was a fisherman and two of his siblings who had joined the LTTE died during the fighting. A villager who did not wish to be named told The Sunday Leader that Samuel was engaged in forcibly recruiting and kidnapping youngsters for the LTTE. He told us that still there are ex-LTTE cadres who were forcibly recruited by Samuel, and the whole village is apprehensive of him.

Crime scene evidence sent for DNA testing

However, the police had arrested Samuel and remanded him while investigations continue. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, the OIC of the Pooneryn police station, Nishantha Apalathotuwa said, “One person has been arrested and remanded in connection with the rape, and the clothes that the victim was wearing at the time of the attack has also been found. We will be sending those clothes of the victim and some blood samples from the scene of the crime for DNA testing after producing the suspect in court on the August 12.”

“We have sent all the evidence that we have recovered from the scene of the crime and the blood sample of the accused will have to be sent after he is produced in court. We have also got a statement from him, but even though he has not yet accepted that he committed the crime, once the DNA tests are done it will establish for certain if he had committed the offence.

However, it will take about a month or two for the DNA test to be carried out and the results to be published. Investigations are currently underway to identify and apprehend the other suspect who was involved in the rape. Currently, we are investigating four persons and we hope to make a breakthrough very soon and arrest the second suspect as well,” he added. Meanwhile when contacted by The Sunday Leader the Security Force Commander of the Killinochchi SF Headquarters Major General Udaya Perera stated that the TNA was simply leveling allegations at the army as part of a smear campaign to discredit the security forces.

“They are the very ones who want the troops reduced, but this is a good example of what could happen when there is no security presence in the remote village areas. Due to the numerous pressures, we in fact withdrew the military personnel from security duties and these are the repercussions,” he added.
According to women’s rights activists, a woman is raped every 90 minutes in Sri Lanka, while in 2012 alone there have been 1653 rape cases reported; of those cases, 1405 were underage persons.

1 Comment for “Breakthrough In Kowdarmunie Rape Case”

  1. Srilankan Jobseeker

    I heard 1 person out of 10 have been engaged in a rape case in SL. What on earth is this? and why the government and officials who are responsible are not taking steps to find out the causes of such incidents and finding solutions to the problem? We can catch the culprit after anything happend what is the use of such arrest or punishment. Please I am urging the authorities to take necessary steps to curtail rape cases in our country at the earliest. It is damn to request from present regime to take necessary actions as some of the top whips surely enjoy from these incidents.

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