May 25, Colombo: The Human Rights commission of Sri Lanka said it has received several complaints from women that they were prevented from entering public premises and public buildings in the last two weeks and expressed concern over the treatment denying essential services for these women.
"We are extremely concerned to receive these complaints and write to appeal to you to ensure that no one is denied entry to public spaces unless they contravene the law. In some instances, our concern is greater because we hear this wrongful refusal of entry lead to these women being denied essential services" the HRCSL said in a letter to the Chambers of Commerce requesting non-discrimination in enforcing security measures.
The Chairperson of HRCSL Dr. Deepika Udagama in her letter to the Chairperson, The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and industry of Sri Lanka said recalled that Emergency Regulations 32A prohibits people from wearing anything that conceal the full face in public places and the purpose of the Regulation is to ensure that there is no hindrance to the "Identification of a Person".
"We are concerned to hear that many women who were attired in a manner that conforms to the said prohibition were prevented from entering private institutions and commercial enterprises. This includes women who wore head scarves, scarves that go around the head and under the chin and are clipped on the side or at the back. In some instances, women were made to remove the side clip - which then makes the head cover slip off. In all such instances, the women who were prohibited did not cover their whole face," the Chairperson wrote.
"In a time of such great sadness for our country, we urge you to remind your members that each of us bears the responsibility to act in a manner that guarantees unity and harmony rather than enhancing differences."
"So, we appeal to you to take immediate steps to urge your members to ensure that all persons who conform to the prohibition contained in Regulation 32A are granted access to all private institutions under your purview. We also suggest that you provide clear guidelines to your members about the types of attire NOT prohibited so as to facilitate this process.
"We are annexing a pictorial depiction of the different types of permissible and prohibited head-gear that you should consider displaying prominently at your institutions," Dr. Udagama's letter said.