Ranil wants MPs who abuse female counterparts punished

By Saman Indrajith

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday that the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus, headed by State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, should be given powers to deal with rowdy male MPs who harassed and abused their female counterparts in the House.

The UNP leader proposed that the Caucus be empowered to take action against those who harassed female MPs.

The former PM said that he made that proposal following a privilege issue raised by a female MP who had suffered verbal abuse and harassment at the hands of a government MP.

The UNP leader proposed that the Head of the Caucus and its members meet Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and discuss the issue at hand. He praised Dr. Fernandopulle for her courage to stand up for the rights of female MPs.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said SLPP Badulla District MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi had verbally abused SJB Matale District female MP Rohini Kaviratne in a blatant violation of her privileges. “The Presiding Member at the time tolerated the abhorrent act. He is not suitable to be in the Chair,” the Chief Opposition Whip said.

JVP MP Dr. Harini Amrasuriya said that the MPs who harassed female counterparts in the House and those who approved of such acts brought Parliament into disrepute.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena expressed his regrets over the incident of Badulla District MP Kutti Arachchi harassing and abusing SJB female MP Kaviratne. He warned MP Kutti Arachchi not to behave in the same manner in the House again.

The Speaker called on Whips of the Opposition and Government to instruct their MPs to act with restraint in Parliament.

MP Kutti Arachchi said that he had only spoken about vegetables and had not insulted MPs.

He said that former MP Ranjan Ramanayake had spoken about the “front side and back side” in the House and none got upset. “I want to know where the female MPs who got disturbed by my speech were here at that time.”

Chairperson of the Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus headed by State Minister Dr Fernandopulle requested male MPs not to associate the names of female MPs in their speeches. It was an offence even if the male MPs made undue and indirect remarks about their female counterparts, she said.


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