By Sandun Jayawardana 
Power and Renewable Energy Ministry has expressed dissatisfaction with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) over the latter’s slow progress in taking immediate measures to avert an anticipated power crisis in 2018. The sentiments were conveyed in a strongly worded letter sent by the Ministry secretary, Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda to CEB Chairman Anura [...]


3 to 5 innocents sexually abused every day



By Anushiya Sathisraja
At least three to five children are sexually abused every day, with police statistics showing that approximately 800 cases of child rape were reported between January and October this year, while more than 1,550 such cases were reported last year.

According to UNICEF, more than 85 per cent of all reported abuse cases involving children involved sexual abuse. In 70 per cent of those cases, the attacker was someone known to the family; in only 5 per cent of was the attacker a stranger.

“A lack of parental care, attention and supervision is one major reason children are sexually abused, and in most cases the wrongdoer is a close relative of the victim,” Secretary to the Child Protection Committee in Ministry of Women and Child Affairs Chandrani Seneratne said.

An Action Plan approved by Cabinet includes adding sex education to the school curriculum. Ms. Seneratne said the current syllabus on sex education and reproductive health was inadequate and most teachers skipped this lesson either out of embarrassment or because they felt children were too young to be taught the subject.

Another reason for the high levels of child abuse is the absence of the mother from many households. A recent study by Save the Children found that Sri Lanka has 600,000 female migrant workers and that 90 per cent of them are mothers.

“The children they leave behind are at risk of not only abuse but other violations of their rights such as having to drop out of school to look after younger children or being sent to institutions,” Ms. Senaratne said.

“The government is too lenient when taking action against perpetrators and that the whole issue of sexual abuse is not being addressed seriously enough.”
“It was the duty of the government and the judiciary to take action in preventing the high incidence of sexual abuse”, civil society activist and founder of Women and Media Collective (WMC) Kumudini Samuel said.

She said although there was a significant increase in the reportage of these acts of sexual abuse and rape, it was difficult to say whether this was an indication of improved and increased reporting or the high incidence of such crimes.

“There are systems now in place where people can report sexual abuse anonymously. The question is whether the country has a mechanism to respond to all these cases – what kind of legal assistance can be given or how you can speed up the process if it goes to courts,” she said.

Lack of awareness of sexual and reproductive health among teenagers in villages is a serious problem, Ms. Samuel, she added.
New technologies had caused the rise in child abuse, said Manoj Samarasekera of the Women and Children Bureau. “Though sexually explicit sites and other links have been blocked in the country, there are ways and means of accessing them,” he said.

In one recent case, a six-year old child had been sexually abused by a school van driver. “We are appealing to parents to be watchful about their children and ensure that they are not left alone in such vehicles. They should also check on the background of the drivers who take their children to school,” he added.

600-plus children die every year from accidents
Annually, about 270,000 children younger than 16 years of age suffer accidents severe enough to require hospital treatment and that 600 children die due to breathing problems, transport accidents, drowning, poisoning and animal bites, Family Health Bureau statistics show.

Hospital injury mortality is significantly low indicating that most children die before reaching hospital.
Causes of death are breathing problems (37.9 per cent), transport accidents (18.9 per cent), drowning (18.3 per cent), poisoning (11.7 per cent) and snake bites (4.4 per cent).A poster on childhood injury prevention designed for Sri Lankan contexts is available to raise awareness of the dangers. The poster shows vulnerabilities of different age groups for injuries and advices and prevention options.

The posters are printed in Sinhala, Tamil and English and 15,000 are ready for distribution to all public health midwives, Medical Officer of Health offices, health care institutions, general practitioners and other first contact physicians. Police data shows 259 child deaths on the roads, with 63 of the victims being pedestrians.

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