“Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” ― Aeschylus
Robert F Kennedy used Aeschylus to explain the need to make life more gentle at a turbulent juncture in history in the 1960s. It is appropriate to echo this statement in light of the savageness that surrounds us evident from stories one hears on a daily basis.
The world that we live has an ugly side which needs to be addressed through the law and justice mechanisms. This is the society we live in; this is the society our kids are going to grow up in. It is our responsibility to make a change. Stand united and fight against abuse. This was written in the month of June by this author and published at Colombo Telegraph asking to stand for Ajith.
An 18-year-old school girl in Pungudutivu of the Northern Province was gang raped and murdered in the most brutal of ways. This act is a lasting disgrace upon our society. It is not the first of cases as our nation has a high percentage of rape and other forms of sexual abuse. This was written in the month of May.
tly, yet another incident was reported in Kotadeniyawa. An innocent four and a half year old girl named Seya was strangled and sexually abused. This is another disturbing story among many on our island home. How many children need to face this cruelty for it to be too much?
Barbaric acts of such nature need to be punished. It is the right time to seriously consider bringing back capital punishment as we have become a society that rewards violence.
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Chairman Dr. Natasha Balendra admitted that the legal system in the country had failed to meet out punishment to child abusers the way it should as court cases of this nature would last for about eight to nine years. A comment from Prof. Harendra de Silva regarding Seya’s incident said “people know killing, peddling drugs or other related crimes are not brought to book and a common belief that if they kill someone they would be in a different position in society”.
Many disturbing child abuse cases
We hear many disturbing child abuse cases from all around the island and there is a marked rise in such cases in the recent years.
In 2011, the Family Health Bureau warned that 10 percent to 14 percent of underage girls in Sri Lanka are sexually abused annually. The youngest reported victim of child rape was just four months old.
In 2012, GA of Jaffna warned that there are about 600 child abuse cases annually and this culture was not there before the conflict or during the conflict period but has emerged after the conflict.
With all these warnings and incidents it’s important the authorities and civil society act to rectify this situation.
Controlling the situation
A presidential committee should be appointed with immediate effect to come out with recommendations to minimize this situation of child abuse in the country.
For this, committee stakeholders from society should give their ideas and members such as Rosy Senanayake should be appointed who had been voicing her opinion on this subject.
It’s unfortunate such individuals who could have addressed this pressing issue are not elected to our Parliament. It is shocking to see some individuals who have got a nominal amount of votes and defeated have been appointed to parliament and given portfolios. Still people elect the rich spenders, thugs, drug barons to the parliament now evident since some were clearly identified and named by the public and members of the present Government unfortunately now all part of the National Government.
Since so many Ministers have been appointed it is time to expect from the present cabinet to move the country towards right direction.
Expectation of the people
The investment to maintain the massive cabinet and many more is colossal in this small nation with economic difficulties. The expectation of the people was something else. What is required now is to develop the public institutions and make them efficient and profit making with the competent people assigned for the right positions. To address sexual abuse, the Ministry of Child Affairs and Women’s affairs, Child Protection Authority should be equipped to strengthen society and institutions with proper resources and possess an effective annual budget for operations. However, the core responsibility lies in the hands of every citizen to ensure we educate our sons and daughters, to make this place safe for the next generation.
The entire year was spent to get the governance structure right and appoint the new president and government with a better value system which promised to protect and honour rule of law to punish the corrupt. Now it’s important to act and deliver the expectation of the people.
Poverty is one of the key issues that trigger crime and violence such as to innocent Seya. While the world outside is discussing and investing time in innovation and many more great discussions which you could see few days ago from the Dalian World Economic Forum. As a nation, we should plan our journey towards economic prosperity to double our per capita by 2020 and make our environment safe and sustainable for all.
(The writer is the former Executive Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies)