October 31, 2013 : Sri Lanka: Childhood being robbed in Sri Lanka

During the second commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child in Sri Lanka, Ragama Medical Faculty Professor Aswini Fernando revealed that according to the latest research statistics in year 2012 alone, 3779 child abuse cases had been reported in the country. Here it must be noted that this is only the number of reported cases, which highlights the invisible question regarding the number of cases not reported or go unnoticed (cases which are usually swept under the carpet). However, it is sad that from the reported 3779 figure, 60% are sexual abuse cases, 38% physical abuse cases, 18% neglect cases, 5% child labour cases and 8% emotional abuse cases. Most recently, Sri Lankans were forced to hear about an unfortunate incident where a father burned his son with an iron rod because the son failed the Grade V scholarship examination. Sadly, this is the country we are living in today which is also considered as the ‘Miracle of Asia’.

At the celebration of the Day of the Girl Child in Sri Lanka held last week at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), the Attorney General of Sri Lanka Palitha Fernando said that there were enough laws in Sri Lanka concerning the protection of girl children and said what was needed in the country was law enforcement. However if we consider the whole picture concerning child abuse instead of just focusing on ‘girl children’ the shocking reality remains that though our people visit temples, churches, mosques and kovils in the present day more than it was ever reported or seen in this country’s history, the crime rate (which includes child abuse cases) have not decreased, but instead, increased.

The Attorney General’s Department alone cannot prevent child abuse.  The cooperation and support of all other related organisations and officials are needed to protect the rights of children. Nevertheless although one is born a girl, it has not been an obstacle for Sri Lankan girl-children to go ahead in education or health. One of the major issues behind a child being prevented from continuing his/her education is poverty. So we ask the Minister and the relevant authorities to draw their attention to this situation. However, there have been instances that have stood as exceptions, which have resulted in creating darker shadows in our society concerning the security of children,” Fernando said.

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