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‘We focus on independence and empowerment – teaching women who have experienced long-term abuse to live on their own, away from their husbands – but we do have to work on a very small scale,’ she explains later – adding that while Community Concern is responsible for the administration of the shelter, there’s currently only one live-in staff member, or ‘matron’, who provides 24/7 support to the 12 or so women who stay on site.‘Unfortunately, we don’t have the funds to expand to help more than a dozen women or so at a time.The PMGY team in Sri Lanka were incredible, from the coordinators to the tuk-tuk drivers! PMGY also offered plenty of once in a life time trips, which allow you to see a lot of the country during the weekends.Over the course of 12 years, Deepa got used to packing up her belongings into thin plastic carrier bags and moving house.‘When my husband started beating me when I was 15, I asked my mother-in-law for help.She lived in the room next door, so she could hear me yelling whenever he tied me up and raped me.For some, the violence appears bound to the country’s increasing levels of male alcoholism – drinking-related issues are more than twice as common in Sri Lanka than across the rest of South Asia.
They do not have a voice.’ Even their screams are out of their control.But for all its rooftop cocktail bars, Uber drivers and beach parties, the country still only has one shelter offering long-term accommodation for the thousands of women and children in need of escape from domestic abuse. Called Heavena, the shelter operates on a level of such unfortunately necessary semi-secrecy, staff members must walk the length of two streets before catching their tuktuks home – lest a driver inadvertently pass their location to a vengeful husband or violent ex.Even up close, there aren’t any signs to betray the sprawling bungalow’s purpose.‘By the time the landlord knocked on our door and said we had to leave, I’d already be half packed up.’ He’d have heard her pleas for mercy the night before, she explains.‘He didn’t want there to be a murder on his property.’ A new report released in October this year estimates that 60 per cent of women in Sri Lanka will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetimes.