Froelich – Task #1

 Stefanie Froelich

Over the summer, I had the privilege of getting involved at Sarvodaya Headquarters in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. I realized that everyone seemed to be getting settled in with their research ideas and what they were going to be doing for the next month, except for me. That was until I met Maraliya. Maraliya was born in Sri Lanka but was adopted by a Dutch couple when she was three weeks old. She grew up in the Netherlands but she always felt the need to come back to her home country to study something she had always been interested in – the rights of women. While in college, she was able to do a study that she named, “Psychological Problems due to Rape Resulting in Pregnancy or Having a Child, among Sri Lankan Girls and Young Women.” For her master’s thesis, she wanted to extend her studies in this particular field.

I was the Metta Convention when I first met Maraliya. She told me about her interests and her heart for women, especially ones who have been physically abused by men. I found myself so overwhelmed with what I heard yet interested to find out more about what exactly it was that she wanted to accomplish. A few days later, it just so happened that Maraliya came to Sarvodaya to speak to Bandula, one of our coordinators of our study abroad program. I got to sit down and talk with her about what she wanted to get done as a part of her research and how she was going to do it. By the end of our conversation, we had planned to travel to different organizations all over Sri Lanka that supported women’s rights as abused victims of rape, violence and abuse.

For the next few weeks we were able to meet with directors of women’s organizations and we even got to meet some of the women that were a part of the centers.

As the days went on and the meetings continued, I realized that I was getting more and more interested on the topic of rape and sexual violence against women in this country. I was asking questions like, “How are these women getting raped and who is raping them? Are these rapists morally aware of what they are doing? What are their consequences? Are these women getting any support?”

I found out that a lot of these men don’t think that what they are doing is wrong. I also found out that these rape victims usually feel at fault for what has happened to them. I became interested in knowing the options and available resources for these particular women who have had these issues in the past.

There are many questions I have about the idea of rape and how it can be so predominant in a country, however, I realize that I can only study a small section of the huge spectrum that this issue covers. I would like to study the resources that are available to women/girls that have been raped in the past and are struggling with their self-identity now. In order to do so, I would be interested in knowing what kinds of issues these girls face and how it has impacted their quality of life.

As a part of this study, I would love to find out what is available to these organizations and women in Sri Lanka now and ways in which we can improve them. Whether it’s more safe areas for these women or if it’s programs that show them their sense of worth, I would be interested in finding out what kinds of solutions there are to this huge problem with rape and regret associated with rape.

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