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Letters to the Editor

16th March, 1997


Child abuse: parents must take full responsibility

Much has been written about the incidences of sexual abuse of children in vans, in orphanages, at hotels etc. But what has been lacking in publications are the measures we should take to curtail these horrendous crimes. Some NGO's reporting them and few articles in the newspapers would never get this problem solved.

What we really must aim is for the parents to take personal responsibility of their children regarding these matters.

1. The parents must understand that sexual abuse of children leaves lasting - often un-erasable scars on their minds. Children may take part in these sexual acts without realizing what exactly is happening, but at a later age when they come to realize what had taken place in their lives, they can be left behind with a guilty feeling of being used, a feeling of being cheated and being unclean. When the child cannot do anything to erase these from their lives they can turn out to be aggressive, delinquent or even sexually perverted. The parents must understand that "not getting pregnant" is not enough an excuse to send their offspring on an errand of quick money. Sexually transmitted diseases can cause permanent damages. Parents, especially the uneducated ones, must be educated on this matter thoroughly.

2. It is a shocking truth that these abuses are taking place even at homes, even in educated surroundings. Often the abuser is a perverted relation or friend. The school van drivers also have become notorious offenders.

The most important tool to overcome this aspect is to have a close rapport with your own child. What with TV bringing explicit sex into our living rooms, no child is too young to learn about the rights and wrongs of sex. As soon as the child can understand, which may be as young as four to five years, the parents must instill into them the sense of modesty. The importance of covering the private parts and not changing clothes in front of others, including brothers and relations, are important facts we must teach our children very early.

School going children must be told never to speak to strangers, never to accept presents from outsiders and of course about the possibility of abuse. It is healthier for the children to find out these from the parents, with the assurance of care and protection, rather that through guilty whispers from the peers.

And most of all, it is very important for the parents to have the trust of the child, that nothing however ugly or bad the act may be - NOTHING must be hidden from the parents. It is better to be warned than to be punished. Threats of harm to the child or the parents should never take precedence over confession to the parents.

The parents must be aware of the exact whereabouts of the child, their friends, their reading material as well as their leisure activities. Children never outgrow the need to be supervised, provided it is done in a trusting friendly manner.

One important aspect sorely missing in our society in tackling this problem is the assertiveness of the parents in bringing the culprits to book. I have heard several tales where the parents found the van driver or a neighbour abusing their child and all what they did was to change the van surreptitiously with no concern for the other children at all. This is nothing but a crime. We must speak out, get the culprits punished or at least dismissed from the particular van. One particular measure of safety I advise mothers of school going daughters is to find a van with for a lady in it. A parent, teacher or the owner - a lady to travel in the van, preferably to the last destination. It is upto us parents to protect our children in this dangerous world today.

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai,


New Petrol: what's that stink?

Some time ago the media brought to the notice of the public, the importation of sub standard petrol to the country by the CPC. The main concern being its smell.

However the CPC officials decided to accept this consignment of petrol, as it met the required specifications according to them.

Now, this petrol is in use and one can get the smell from the passing by vehicles.

As the product finds its way into every part of the country, the whole country will be stinking very soon.

Does not the stink in the air represent pollution of the environment and if so, does this petrol meet the required specifications?

Acceptance of this petrol by the CPC quality control staff can mean one or two things.

Either the CPC officers are down right stupid or some one had received "Some Thing". Mr. Chairman, which of the two do you want us to believe?

In the mid seventies Sri Lanka received an order for passion-fruit juice from a European country with certain laid down specifications as to the sweetness, colour, preservatives etc.

When the first consignment was being manufactured there was a shortage of white sugar in the market.

Therefore a high ranking officer of the manufacturer decided to use brown sugar thereby changing the colour of the final product. Not only was that particular consignment rejected by the purchaser, but he also cancelled the entire order.

It indicates how seriously one should consider the quality of a product.

M. Nihal Palipane


A way to arrest sea erosion in Negombo

It is a well known fact that reefs constitute the strongest shield that nature has provided to prevent the sea from doing damage to the land. From the extensive erosion that has taken place in several spots in Negombo coast, it would appear that the reef extending upto Chilaw has sunk in several places due to various causes and reasons. As far as my observations go, this no doubt, has given the sea which is aided by wind and current, the speed and force to break on the beach in a devastating manner. Placing boulders along the beach is no solution to the problem of sea erosion in Negombo. Besides being ineffective, this wastage is a drain on the precious foreign aid.

Meaningful steps should be taken immediately to arrest this menacing threat to our country which is losing acres and acres of land to the sea every year. In Negombo, this problem takes on a different dimension in that, besides loss of land, luxury hotels and rest houses which have come up on the beaches face a continuous threat of extinction. Damage or destruction would result in colossal losses in foreign exchange which, needless to say, will have a most damaging effect on an economy which is striving to survive.

It is therefore incumbent on the part of the Government to give top priority to this national problem. In this connection, I would suggest the building of a groyne on the existing reef extending onwards to about quarter of a mile in the first stage, which can be extended by stages up to one mile. As a result, nature may help to extend the beach. By this concept a fishing harbour also can be provided for the convenience of fisher folk to accommodate their boats which is a crying need for them.

Sometime ago serious damage had been caused to a vessel when it ran aground on the reef in Negombo. This was no doubt due to the absence of a light house. May I suggest the proposed ''light house'' will serve many purposes, namely:-

(i) Protection to nature's gift, the reef

(ii) Ships that sail along the coast of Negombo would not run aground causing damage to the reef as well as to vessels as it happened some time ago.

(iii) For guidance of fisherman who go deep sea fishing, this proposed ''light house" will be a blessing in disguise.

This notion mentioned may inspire and stimulate a progressive engineer to explore the possibility of constructing a ''wind mill'' on the proposed ''light house''. These suggestions may help to tap ''wind power'' to produce electricity, as there is a continuous wind blowing over the reef. It is therefore more economical to raise the sunken reef by way of constructing groynes on the existing reef by stages up to a distance of one mile. As the sea is now calm it is most opportune to start the scheme immediately. This suggestion if successful can be introduced to other coastal areas.

K.Joseph S. Fernando,


More letters to the editor * Mad world of motorists: a jungle of animals gone haywire * Moratuwa needs a face lift badly

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