Laws - Sri Lanka
In March 1993, the government adopted a Women's Charter that incorporates many provisions of CEDAW and also contains specific provisions on the right to protection from gender-based violence.
Sri Lanka ratified CEDAW on 5 October 1981.
The 1995 amendments to the Sri Lankan Penal Code redefined rape, criminalised incest, trafficking in women and children and sexual harassment and made punishment for such offences more severe. See Savitri Goonaesekere (2004), Violence, Law and Women's Rights by Sage Publications India Private Limited, New Delhi.
Abortion is illegal in Sri Lanka even when the woman is a victim of rape, incest or genetic disorder of the foetus. See http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=24194
In 1996, following the Fourth World Conference on Women, the government drafted a National Plan of Action containing strategies to promote and protect human rights of women.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act came into operation on October 3, 2005.
Customary laws in Sri Lanka are three in kind: the Kandyan Law (governing the residents of the Kandyan provinces of 1815 and their descendants); the Muslim Law (governing the Islamic community) and the Tesawalamai Law (governing the Tamil people, in the North and the East). The Roman-Dutch Law considered as the common law of the country governs the rest of the population.
The Personal Laws ostensibly have minimal constraints on the women but in practice they are so intertwined with customary practices of a particular community that they hold back women from exercising their rights over property, inheritance and dowry.