At least three children are raped in Sri Lanka each day, indicating that the incidence of sexual assault of minors is escalating.
Statistics available at Police Headquarters reveal that 480 cases of child rape were reported between January and June this year, while 925 such cases were reported last year. An officer at Police HQ said Ratnapura district had the country’s highest number of child rape cases – 79 in 2009, and 47 in the first six months of this year.
Most of the victims lived on tea estates, in line rooms, where sexual molestation of underage children is not uncommon. Families on tea estates often marry off daughters who are underage.
Last year, at least 55 and 53 child rape cases were reported from Kegalle and Anuradhapura respectively, and 46 cases were reported from Tangalle in the first six months of this year.
During the chena cultivation season, farmer parents in Anuradhapura district go out to work in the fields, leaving their children alone at home and exposed to danger.
“A lack of parental care, attention and supervision is one major reason children get sexually abused, and in most cases the wrongdoer is a close relative of the victim,” the Police officer said. “Going by the number of cases reported to the Police, it would seem that girls in the 14-to-16 age group are becoming regular targets for rape.”
The officer added that the number of rape cases that go unreported may be much greater than the number that gets reported.
Meanwhile, according to the Police officer, sex is becoming common practice among schoolchildren in Colombo, who said that easy access to pornography on the Internet was a contributing factor.