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Reconciliation is on everyone’s lips in Sri Lanka. But there is still little agreement on what it really means, particularly for those most affected by the conflict – Sri Lanka’s minority women.
Today, years after the formal end of the conflict in 2009, many still face chronic insecurity, protracted displacement, limited livelihood options and the continued threat of sexual violence. A large number, having been widowed during the war, are now the sole breadwinners for their families.
In 2013 MRG, in partnership with local rights groups, initiated a programme to provide minority women with a platform to voice their thoughts on the conflict and its legacy. Working with 178 women in six former conflict areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, the project employed drawing and poetry as a way for participants to explore their feeling about the war, their losses, the search for justice and their future prospects.
Flying in the sky is not my desire
It is just to walk
Who came as my partner
Gone far away
I break at my
Very simple needs
Of my only son
Need to find a job daily
to have my meals
God is the only light I have faith in
That is all my yearning
Hindu Tamil woman, aged 32
Though some women were cautiously optimistic about the future, others still felt unable to move on. Many found it very difficult to trust in the authorities. For a large majority, however, the effects of the conflict were still being felt and justice, security and development – all necessary elements in the reconciliation process – remained unrealized several years on. This project highlights, through their art, the hopes and fears of minority women and their thoughts on the possibility of reconciliation.