Author: Hansamala Ritigahapola



One of the significant trends observables in Sri Lankan Sinhala lyrical literature in the 80s is protest songs. History of the representation of protest or a strong dislike towards something through lyrics could be traced back to the 8th, 9th, and 10th century to the collection of Sigiri doodle songs. Even though protest songs have been part of lyrical literature of the country for a long time, it was during the late 80s that it emerged more powerfully and significantly. As these songs were censored by the Sri Lanka Broad Casting Cooperation (Radio Ceylon), which was the sole authority for releasing the songs, they gained more momentum. These protest songs were censored due to their lyrics and the main purpose of this article is to analyze how the women were portrayed in these lyrics based on the theory of gender. Songs released by ‘Sing Lanka’ under the album (cassettes) named ‘Pawana’ were used as the primary data for the study. Those days, there was a solo musical event carried out with the same name and it was banned with the use of powerful state oppression. Though the songs were mostly a protest against oppression in the society, they also portray how women were misused within the oppressive society. It is usually the institution of family that is analyzed through gender theory. However, it is evident that in the selected sample, attention is drawn to the upper socio-political structure of the society. Precisely, the songs bring into notice, the oppression that women had to endure due to the societal pressures. The songs highlight the need of Sri Lankan women to rise against injustice, unfairness, and lawlessness.

Keywords: Gender, Pawana, Protest Songs, Women

How to Cite: Ritigahapola, H., 2023. An Analysis of Portrayal of Women in Protest Songs. ‘Pumithiri e-journal of Gender Studies, 2(1), pp.25-32.


Published on 08 Mar 2023