In Sri Lanka, 80 per cent of rape cases reported to the police involve girls below 16 years of age, who are “minors” as per the law, says the state-owned Sunday Observer newspaper. The number of child rape cases registered in the last couple of years has been a cause of concern. It was 1,089 in 2009, 1,189 in 2011 and 557 till the end of May 2012.
Abduction of children is another area of concern. In 2010, 551 kids had been abducted. This year, till the end of May, 318 children had been abducted. “About two or three child rape or abuse cases get reported every 24 hours,” said Jayantha Wickremesinghe, director of the Children and Womens’ Bureau of Sri Lanka police.
In most cases, the rapist was a blood relation, neighbour or a close friend, the official said. Kids without parents or from broken families, were exploited by friends and relatives, who approach them in the guise of giving help and sympathy.
Wickremesinghe urged parents, especially mothers, to show affection towards their daughters as lack of love at home tended to drive young girls into the arms of unscrupulous elements, who enticed them with false show of affection.
Lakhs of Lankan women from the urban slums and villages, work as maids in several countries abroad, leaving their young children behind. The kids either go astray or are exploited.
The law against sexual abuse of kids is tough in Sri Lanka, with sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison. But this has not been a deterrent.
The chairman of the Child Protection Authority (CPA), Anoma Dissanayake, has been demanding death penalty for child molesters.