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DWU in Sri Lanka leads protest against domestic worker rape with Supreme Court Judge

July 2, 2014

Domestic Workers’ Union, Sri Lanka, protested against the rape by Supreme Court Judge Sarath De Abrew. On 2 July 2015, In Solidarity with other unions and organizations, they handed in petition letter to the Chairman of Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.


2 July 2014
Press release

Domestic Workers’ Union protests against the rape of a woman domestic worker by a powerful male Judge

Another grotesque instance of blatant misuse of male, class and political power by the powerful Supreme Court judge, Sarath Abrew.

Shame on you Mr powerful Judge!

It is indeed shameful that a man of the rank of a Supreme Court judge, who has been vested with one of the highest of powers and the responsibility of delivering justice, has committed such grave injustice.

Raping and attacking a woman domestic worker who worked for him in his house reeks of gross exploitation at various levels. This is nothing but another grotesque instance of blatant misuse of male, class and political power by the powerful Supreme Court judge.

He is a male judge which also means he has huge resources – economic, social and political – at his disposal. He is obviously used to getting away with anything and everything. That is the reason he had no compunction or hesitation to attack the domestic worker who was working in his house. One does not know how many times he has got away with such heinous behaviour towards people working with or for him.

It is quite likely that the only reason this came to light is because the domestic worker was attacked so badly that she had to be admitted into the emergency ward of the Government hospital. He seems to be so drunk on his male and class power that he attacked her with his official pistol so hard that she fractured her head. The Government hospital confirmed that the woman domestic worker had been raped.

According to reports in the media, after the victim was admitted to the hospital Mr. Abrew went to the hospital and tried to get the victim released on several occasions using his powers as a judge. He had also exerted immense pressure on the hospital Director while trying every method to obstruct the filling up of the medico legal examination form (MLE).

It is learnt that Abrew visited the hospital several times tend attempted to use force on the victim. It is also learnt that last year itself, four similar incidents of assault and battery by judge Abrew were reported. One of the victims was another young woman domestic worker.

It is urgent that this man is immediately arrested, denied bail and not allowed to leave the country. He is more than likely to intimidate the survivor and interfere in every possible way in the evidence and in the process of justice.

The Judicial Service Commission should take immediate action against him and discharge him from his post of Judge. He should not be allowed to be a Judge henceforth.

The survivor needs careful medical attention, psychological counselling as well as security.

The Government must provide her with immediate compensation of Rs. 20 lakh, so that she can take care of her health, fight the court case against her assaulter and rapist. Also she should not be forced to look for work immediately as she has undergone severe trauma.

We have all come together with the undersigned organizations are joining together. We all want to give a message that domestic workers are not alone or isolated, that the Domestic Workers’ Union condemns every such atrocity committed on women, on workers, especially domestic workers. We will fight against such attempts to demean us, to threaten and intimidate us.

We urge all workers, all women and democratic individual and organisations to come with us, support us in our struggle for justice.

Our demands:
1. Immediate arrest of Sarath Abrew.
2. Impoumd his passport and stop him from leaving the country
3. Immediately discharge him from his post as a Judge.
4. Give immediate relief to the survivor by giving her Rs. 20 lakh, medical assistance, medico-psychological counselling, legal support and any other support needed as and when the time comes.
5. We demand a speedy trial so that the survivor can get on with her life.
6. Recognise domestic work as labour and give legal protection to domestic workers.
7. Sexual assault is an important hazard domestic workers face; recognise it and make legal provisions that give speedy justice to rape and assault victims by giving strict sentences to assaulters and rapists of domestic workers.

In Solidarity with

Domestic Workers’ Union
Ceylon Workers Red Flag Union
Red Flag Women’s Movement
United Plantation Workers Union
Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre
Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
Rural Women’s front
Kantha Shakthi forum
National Free trade Union
Savisthri National Women’s Movement
Citizens voice for peace and justice
Women’s Political Academy
Suriya Women’s Development Centre
National Fisheries Solidarity Movement
Committee for Asian Women
International Domestic Workers Federation

Please sign and share the petition today: https://bit.ly/fireabrew

Source: Domestic Workers Union