COLOMBO, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan leaders on Tuesday assured gender equality and protection, recognition and economic empowerment for all women in the island nation.
In a statement to mark International Women's Day, Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena said that even though Sri Lanka was blessed with the first female prime minister and the executive president in the world, the women and female children in the country were still facing issues of their safety.
He said that in Sri Lanka women had become the main source of earning foreign exchange as expatriate workers, apparel industry employees and workers in the plantation sector, but some of them were exploited and faced insecurity in their careers.
"There should be a broad social discourse to ensure that the rights adopted through laws are established in the society. The International Women's Day will be an ideal platform to continue this discourse on women," the President said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that his government sought to create the kind of setting that acknowledges gender equality and ensures protection, recognition and economic empowerment for all women. He said the nation had a collective responsibility to ensure that women are assured of protection, appreciation and honor in every aspect.
Issues such as rape and domestic violence against women are reported in many parts of Sri Lanka with over 1,800 rape cases reported in 2015.
The police said that out of the 1,854 cases, 1501 victims were below the age of 18.
A massive protest was held in Vavuniya, in Sri Lanka's former war torn north last month against the rise in sexual violence on women and children and protesters called on Sirisena and his government to offer more protection.