Humanitarian and relief agency World Vision Lanka launched its campaign ‘It takes a nation to end physical and sexual violence against children’, on its 40th anniversary celebrations in Colombo.
The campaign has a specific focus on ending child sexual abuse and combatting severe and humiliating punishment of children.
Women and Child Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara was a special Guest of Honour, State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne delivered the keynote address and Ministers Anoma Gamage, Range Bandara and Vajira Abeywardena and current member of parliament A.H.M. Fowzie were present at the ceremonial opening. Coordinating Secretary to President Shiral Lakthilaka representing the President’s office and World Vision Lanka Board Chair Anglican Bishop of Colombo Reverend Dhiloraj Kanagasabey also spoke at the event.
Many past members of staff, communities and partners of World Vision Lanka were present at the programme. The organization celebrated its work serving the poor in Sri Lankan since 1977. World Vision has been actively involved in child well-being centered community development with interventions in Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, and Education and Economic Development. With projects in 22 out of the 25 districts, World Vision has also been instrumental in providing humanitarian assistance in emergencies such as the tsunami, floods and drought as well as in the post conflict contexts.
The organization’s focus to join the global campaign to end violence against children comes at a time where there is a rise in reported cases of child abuse in Sri Lanka. The campaign was launched in the presence of Women and Child Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara and South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) Director General Dr. Rinchin Chophel. The aim of the campaign is to address violence against children, by raising public awareness on the subject and drawing attention to community vigilance and responsibility, as abuse in most cases are done by those known to the child. World Vision Lanka will also continue to be a strategic partner in the National Partnership to End Violence Against Children (NPEVAC).
World Vision Sri Lanka National Director Dr. Dhanan Senathirajah speaking at the event said: “Although the exact numbers of child abuse is actually not known, we know that it is a growing problem. In any given year the number of complaints the NCPA receives surpasses 10,000. The police reports are another pointer towards the scale of the situation. But I reiterate here, what goes unreported is our greatest concern. I call upon our partners, the faith community, corporates and donor community to join us in this endeavour.”
World Vision Lanka (WVL) has been working in the sphere of child protection for several decades. The organization works in over 30 locations in Sri Lanka and has access to nearly 2000 communities and more than 500 children’s societies. WVL has been strengthening protection of children in local communities through engaging with children, families and local authorities in poor, rural as well as in difficult urban areas. These interventions include prevention of child right violations and as well as supporting victims of child abuse. Meanwhile the special focus on street children has enabled many children to leave a life of danger and live a normal childhood. In 2017, WVL in its programmes has directly impacted more than 200,000 children and their families.
World Vision Lanka’s campaign will draw its strength from the access the organization has to communities all over Sri Lanka. It will reach out to parents and duty bearers on child protection, scale up family based programmes targeting men to become better caregivers, facilitate awareness raising on the subject at school development societies, and use its direct access to producer groups, water consumer societies, mother groups, nutrition society members and savings clubs, in its awareness drive. Additionally, World Vision Lanka will also work with faith communities in their project areas.
Those present at the programme pledged to help to end violence against children. A commemorative cover and stamp was also issued to mark the event.