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What a rape case says about Sri Lanka’s legal system

Father Nandana Manatunga (center in white) with lawyers during a legal review of Jesudasan Rita’s adjudication process in 2013. (Photo from the Human Rights Office, Kandy)

Jesudasan Rita was a 17-year-old schoolgirl when she was abducted by two men and raped in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Aug. 12, 2001.

Before the rape, Rita was on her way home after attending Sunday Mass and confirmation classes at St. Patrick’s Church in the town of Talawakele.

The rapists held Rita for four hours in their vehicle and then dumped her in an isolated area.

After Rita thought about how Jesus carried a heavy cross up Calvary, she managed to break out of a state of despair and began walking with the intent of going to the police.

The teenager reached a main road where she stopped a passing vehicle that took her to the police station. There she made a complaint in her language, which is Tamil.

The police took Rita with them to search for the two accused, who were found and arrested.

Rita then sought medical help and spent four days in two different hospitals.

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