Amid a shocking and shameful disclosure that as many as 750 cases of child rape or sexual abuse have been reported so far this year, with many more going unreported, comes the horror of horrors of a 13-year-old girl. Behind the physical and mental devastation of this innocent child who had been repeatedly raped by [...]


Sunday shock: Rape and abuse of girls exposes rotten society of perverts

Horror of horrors: Matara child raped by more than 20 cads over three years

Amid a shocking and shameful disclosure that as many as 750 cases of child rape or sexual abuse have been reported so far this year, with many more going unreported, comes the horror of horrors of a 13-year-old girl.

Behind the physical and mental devastation of this innocent child who had been repeatedly raped by more than 20 perverts over three years lies the viscious circle of poverty that forced both her parents to toil from dawn to dusk at a distant estate, leaving her in the care of her brother.

The girl* was only seven when one of her brother’s friends sexually abused her. She told police her parents knew nothing of this as they toiled away as labourers in an estate at Deranagala in Matara.

This was, however, only the beginning of her horror.

When she was ten, a worker at a factory in the vicinity preyed on her. Left unattended at home, she developed a friendship with him. But the worker used her for sex. After some time, he had passed the girl on to some of his factory friends. Police investigations show that the girl was raped about six to seven times a day by the workers.

Sometime later, a bus conductor in the neighbourhood had befriended her. He had taken the girl to an Akuressa hotel and had sexual intercourse. The conductor took the girl to another hotel. This was after he told about the girl to another friend who wanted the girl brought over to him. She changed hands from pervert to pervert and hotel to hotel. Every time she was raped or abused by a predator, she was dropped off home by the bus conductor, who had allegedly threatened her not to tell anyone about what was happening.

She told police she had cried several times because she was shattered by what was happening to her, but there was no escape from the hell. She was further pushed into the rotten world of perverts when she was forced to have sex with four to five men at the same time, according to her statement to the police.

Finally one day, she decided enough was enough and escaped from the clutches of the bus conductor and found refuge in a temple in Matara. A monk offered her food and told her she could take a wash in a bathroom in the temple. Once she was inside, however, the monk had come into the washroom, locked it and had allegedly raped her.

Soon rumours started to spread around the village and it was then her parents got to know about the devastation that had befallen their daughter. But instead of being a help to her and guide her out from the depth of darkness, they confronted her. This was on July 10. The girl left her house and went to the house of a boy in Nittambuwa. He had befriended her after having given her a missed call on one occasion. The boy was in love with her and had even wanted to marry her, Police said. The girl was found in his house on July 23, following a Police complaint lodged by her parents.

More than 20 suspects have been identified over the inhuman abuse of a teenage girl, while 16 arrests have been made. There are several others suspected of aiding and abetting the accused and steps will be taken to arrest them, Police said.

Police investigations have revealed there were four villagers also who allegedly raped the girl. The Police believe that they were responsible for spreading the rumour around the village and tarnishing her image. A hotel owner and several three-wheeler drivers are among those arrested.

Meanwhile the conductor was nabbed on Thursday at a hospital in Colombo 2.

This case is one of many reported this year. National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) officials say nearly 223 cases of child rape cases were reported this year. In addition, some 435 cases of sexual harassment and 99 cases of grave sexual abuse were also reported.

The Sunday Times spoke to two experts on the subject. They commented on some of the concerns with regard to child rape and sexual abuse of children. They also explained measures that needed to be taken to stop this despicable behaviour by perverts.

NCPA Chairperson Natasha Balendra said international studies had shown that one of the root causes for sexual abuse of children was unequal power relations between men, women, adults and children.

She said parents should have open lines of communication with their children and be aware of their day-to-day activities. Further, the children should be able to go to their parents when a problem occurs and parents should respond with comfort and concrete help rather than by blaming or punishing them.

Apart from this, communities should create safe and secure environments for children and families especially the vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Kamini Jinadasa, a consultant on gender-based violence, said the tendency in Sri Lanka was to keep sexual abuse hidden. She said the abuse was exposed only when the child was raped and killed.

She called on the people to act fast and effectively when they see any sign of child abuse.

According to her, covering up such abuse only delays the recovery process and also the arrest of the suspect or suspects.

She said that talking about male children undergoing sexual assault was generally a taboo topic in Sri Lanka, yet it was an important issue that needed to be addressed.

According to a study done by Care International Sri Lanka on attitudes, practices and gender-based violence in 2013, the sexual abuse of boys is in itself an important issue which needs to be addressed, though the cases about girls are more publicised and reported.

Although the study did not point towards a direct causal relationship, it suggested that, the violation of the rights of boys to protection from sexual violence could have an impact on some of them in terms of their behaviour as adults. Furthermore according to the study findings, in certain circumstances, it could be associated with gender based violent behaviour when boys become adults.

The study also pointed that any abusive and neglectful experiences in childhood could carry long-term and harmful effects on children during their childhood and as adults. Such experiences affect their normal development and the right to achieving full potential as adults.

*Name omitted to protect the victim’s identity.

(Additional reporting from our Matara correspondent Krishan Jayaruk)


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