War widows pin hopes on President


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Official figures show 27,000 widows head households in Jaffna, where the conflict was centered, while local politicians put the figure much higher. Shunned, destitute and pushed into prostitution in some cases, Tamil widows have returned to Northern Jaffna since the end of the separatist war only to discover they are not welcome even in their homeland.

 
Now, six years after the war ended, the women who fled the fighting on the peninsula in their thousands are pinning their hopes on President Maithripala Sirisena for a better future for their families, the South China Morning Post reported.
 
The women are closely watching President Maithripala Sirisena who took office in January pledging reconciliation to “heal broken hearts and minds.”
 
Official figures show 27,000 widows head households in Jaffna, where the conflict was centered, while local politicians put the figure much higher.
 
“I can’t think of rebuilding my life now,” said widow, Evin Selvy who struggles to feed her family, earning Rs. 500 a day as a farm laborer. “But I hope the new Government will make it better for my three daughters.”
 
At least 100,000 people were killed in the war between 1972 and 2009 when the military finally crushed Tamil rebels fighting for a separate homeland for the ethnic minority.
 
Widows left behind say they feel vulnerable, with reports of physical abuse by members of their community. Others are ostracized - considered bad luck by the conservative Hindu society. Many struggle to find jobs and cannot make ends meet, with some forced into prostitution, according to Social Worker, Dharshini Chandiran.
 
Several widows said even family friends were trying to take advantage of their plight, seeking sex in return for financial or other assistance.
 
Despite all the problems, Ananthi Sasitharan, 43, a Member of the Northern Provincial Council, said she was optimistic President Maithripala Sirisena would eventually take up their plight, with signs his Government was moving towards reconciliation. “He appears a simple person... I feel we can even call him directly to discuss any problem,” she said.

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