“Hush, Girl! Don’t Share Your Family Troubles with the Outside World”
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Domestic abuse is a significant problem in Sri Lanka with government statistics showing that 17% of ever-married women between the ages of 15 to 49 have experienced some form of domestic abuse. However, this number could be higher in reality, given the prevalence of physical and emotional abuse in situations where partners live together without being married, in situations where the woman is under 15 years of age (Sri Lanka has a 2% child marriage rate), and due to low self-reportage. Although Sri Lankans can only be married after they reach 18 years of age, the war and economic conditions have resulted in a high number of child marriages in recent times. In this paper, I look at two main questions: What is the correlation between child marriage and the beginning of abuse? What is the correlation between pregnancy and the beginning of abuse? The paper draws from desk research. The paper looks only at physical abuse: It is acknowledged that the arena of emotional abuse was recognized only in 2005 after the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was introduced in 2005 and that even now, such abuse is not given the prominence it deserves in conversations on domestic abuse. However, it was not possible in this research to examine emotional abuse due to time and resource constraints and also because even today the aspect of domestic physical abuse is also not accepted as a problem in Sri Lanka.