Human Rights Media Resource Center

This Entry has been submitted.

Human Rights Media Resource Center

Sri Lanka
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

By defying the culture of silence and impunity surrounding high incidents of torture and rape, Father Nandana Manatunga, a Catholic priest, is transforming the human rights landscape in Sri Lanka. Father Nandana challenges religious leaders to use their moral authority to advocate for human rights, and organizes volunteers to collaborate with agencies to document abuse, support victims during trial, and influence societal attitudes through community dialogue. He also offers long-term rehabilitation for young victims by providing shelter, legal support, education, and counseling.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Father Nandana offers an all-encompassing support system for victims of rape and torture in Sri Lanka. Whereas other human rights groups in the region address only the immediate needs of abuse victims, he provides victims with a secure and supportive home for their long-term rehabilitation. Victims have access to shelter, security, legal assistance, and psychological rehabilitation, in addition to schooling and financial support during their stay. The second critical component of Father Nandana's work hinges on media outreach and advocacy for victims' rights. Working in partnership with other local and international agencies, Father Nandana ensures that cases of abuse are fully documented and publicized in urgent appeals and press releases, thereby strengthening the broader calls for legal reform in Sri Lanka. As a result, more people are coming forward now to report cases of child abuse and rape than ever before. Most important, Father Nandana aims to cultivate the role of religious leaders and institutions in the defense of victims' rights. Although religious leaders typically shy away from publicly criticizing the authorities because of fear of retribution, Father Nandana seeks to involve them in professional counseling, court observation, and education sessions. Taking advantage of the visibility and respect afforded to his position, he uses religious channels to spread awareness concerning particular cases and to distribute his calls for legal reform. Father Nandana firmly believes that religious groups have a moral responsibility to defend basic human dignity and is thus demonstrating how religious institutions can be transformed from conservative bodies that may be indifferent to human rights concerns into groups that are keenly engaged in defending those rights.