Aug 15, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs together with the UNICEF has launched a campaign to break the culture of silence and prevent child abuse in the society.
The launch of 'Violence Free Society for Children' campaign took place recently in Anuradhapura. A training program for those working for children including probation officers, school principals and child rights protection officers followed the launch.
During the campaign, several activities will be conducted across the most vulnerable and high risk districts in the country to build awareness on violence against children and child abuse in communities, schools, homes and among politicians; and to develop the capacity of the child protection system to better identify and effectively respond to victims of violence and abuse, the UNICEF in Sri Lanka said.
The Minister of Child Development and Women's Affairs, Tissa Karalliyadde has said that the vision of the government is to create a violence free society for children, to prevent abuse and exploitation of innocent lives and to create an environment where children will be free to enjoy their childhood.
"One child abused is one too many. Violence destroys the very essence of childhood and spirals into their adult life. Children must be made to feel safe, free from molestation and abuse and
importantly, be able to trust the very people who are supposed to protect them." the UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Reza Hossaini has said.
According to the Justice Ministry, around 2000 cases involving some form of violence towards a child are filed with the Attorney General's Department each year.
According to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services over 90,000 children Island wide have become vulnerable to various abusive situations.
The UNICEF says that most of the violence is taking place within the family among those a child knows and trusts.
A 2005 UNICEF-supported study conducted in Anuradhapura, Colombo South and Ratnapura has revealed that 70 percent of incidents were inflicted by a relative or someone close to the family, while 27 percent were within a relationship, and only 3 per cent of incidents were inflicted by a stranger or person unknown to the victim.
The 'Violence Free Society for Children' campaign will help to build capacity of the protection system through training of government staff, who work with families and children.
It further will identify and follow-up cases of violence; equip children with the skills needed to protect themselves; raise public awareness; and advocacy among parliamentarians to increase the state resource allocation for child protection, policy, legal reforms and awareness raising work.
The Sri Lankan government is concerned by the steadily rising number of child abuse and rape incidents in the country and has taken measures to implement a broad program to control such violence.
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