Sri Lanka's "grease devil" molesters

Sri Lankan Army soldiers hold back angry local residents attempting to storm a government building in the eastern Sri Lankan town of Kinniya on August 15, 2011. Sri Lanka tightened security in the east of the country after street riots erupted in protest against alleged police failure to crack down on sexual molesters. Residents have complained that 'grease devils,' a local term used to describe night-time prowlers who cover their bodies with grease or oil to evade capture, have for weeks been targeting single mothers and widows for assaults.
Credit: STR

Rural hamlets on the island of Sri Lanka have violently lashed out at cops and troops for failing to thwart nocturnal sex offenders called "grease devils."

In Sri Lanka, a "grease devil" popularly refers to a man who strips to his underwear, coats himself in grease, invades a woman's home at night and takes advantage of her. The grease is meant to leave his skin slippery so he can more easily resist capture.

Panic over a rash of "grease devil" attacks has stoked 30 acts of vigilante violence against authorities and left five dead, including a cop, according to Australia's ABC News. More than 100 locals were detained after a mob destroyed army vehicles and attacked soldiers accused of sheltering sex offenders. (The military denies this claim.)

The police officer was killed, according to AFP, after locals were enraged that he rescued a drowning fisherman accused of being a "grease devil."

Most of the unrest is taking place in provinces still tense after the Sri Lankan military exacted bloody assaults two years back that defeated the Tamil Tigers, an armed separatist movement sworn to defend the Muslim Tamil minority.

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