London: Tamil women seeking shelter from the civil war in Sri Lanka were sexually abused by guards in refugee camps, a British medic has revealed.
Vany Kumar, who herself was locked up behind barbed wire in the Menik Farm refugee camp for four months, told the Observer newspaper that guards gave food for sex.
"Sexual abuse is something that was a common thing, that I personally saw. In the visitors` area relatives would be on the other side of the fence and we would be in the camp. Girls came to wait for their relatives and military officers would come and touch them, and that`s something I saw," she said.
"The girls usually didn`t talk back to them, because they knew that in the camp if they talked, anything could happen to them. It was quite open, everyone could see the military officers touching the girls."
"Tamil girls usually don`t talk about sexual abuse, they won`t open their mouths about it, but I heard the officers were giving the women money or food in return for sex. These people were desperate for everything," Kumar added.
Kumar, a biomedical graduate from Essex, also claimed prisoners were punished by being made to kneel for hours in the hot sun, and those suspected of links to the defeated Tamil Tigers were taken away and not seen again by their families.
The Sri Lankan government confirmed to the Observer that it had received reports from United Nations agencies of physical and sexual abuse within the camps, but maintained that it had not been possible to substantiate the allegations.