July 12, Colombo: Concerned by the rising number of child abuse incidents in the country, the Sri Lankan government has taken measures to implement a broad program to control child abuse.
The program will be implemented from the first of next month for a period of three months covering the entire island Commissioner of the Department of Probation and Childcare services Mrs. Yamuna Perera said today.
The government will conduct awareness programmes in schools, Dhamma schools and private classes to enlighten the children and the society on the disastrous effects of child abuse on victims and how to recognize the abuses.
Responding to criticism from the Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Harin Fernando that the government has no plans to control the acts of child abuse, the Commissioner said that the existing laws on child abuse will be strengthened to control the situation.
According to the Department of Probation and Child Care Services over 90,000 children Island wide have become vulnerable to various abusive situations.
These vulnerable children are at a high risk of being subjected to sexual abuse, the Commissioner noted. The number of children being sexually abused and put into probationary care has increased, she added.
However, these children have been identified and necessary measures have been taken for their protection, the Commissioner added.
Mrs. Perera further said that the distancing of the relations between the parents and the children as well as inappropriate receipt of sexual education have mainly contributed to the escalation of child abuses.
She added that most children who have been abused are ignorant of what has happened to them or how to avoid it.
Recent reports of rape of teenage school girls by ruling party local government politicians sent shockwaves through the country.
In the latest case 19 persons including a councilor of the Tangalle Urban Council have been charged with repeatedly raping a 13-year-old girl over a period at an inn in the southern beach town of Tangalle.
In a separate incident, another ruling party politician in the southern town of Akuressa in Matara district was jailed on Wednesday over allegations he raped a 14 year old girl.
Despite tough laws already in existence, child molestations have been alarmingly on the increase in Sri Lanka, since the punishments are not imposed strictly, especially when politicians are involved in the crimes, child rights groups point out.
They say most of the offenders get out on bail and repeats the crimes and call for authorities to make rape a non-bailable offense.