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Ayio Neethipathi… Aiyo Neethipathi…

2 April 2013 09:04 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Attorney General is reported to be collecting statistics on incidents of rape and child abuse. Though this has come a little too late it is commendable. We are sad to note that Sri Lanka does not maintain proper records of such ruthless crimes.

According to media reports the inquiry and collection of data are to be carried out by the state-run watchdogs of crimes against children and women -- the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, the National Child Protection Authority and the Women and Child Protection Bureau of the Police.

The collection of statistics include incidents of women and child molesting as reported to police stations. Attorney General Palitha Fernando speaking about this move said once information was gathered, new laws would be formulated to prevent molesting of women and children.

The move by the AG reminds us of a popular Sinhala slogan versified by some civil rights groups several years ago about rape and child abuse.
The slogan which is in the form of a plea urges the Attorney General to intervene and fight against cases of rape.  It is as follows:

“Aiyo Neethipathi
Aiyo Neethipathi
Merayo Evith
Deriyo Dhushana Karathi
Monawa Karannadai
Janayo Asathi……”

It means (Oh Attorney General, Oh Attorney General, the Thugs are raping our daughters and people wonder what they could do... )

Yes, Mr. Attorney General millions of poor and innocent people are looking to you to prevent the rape of women and abuse of children and they hope you would walk the talk or put your words into immediate and effective action.

While welcoming this new move, it is necessary to ask how many such crimes go into police records, how many are taken to Courts and how many of them end up in convictions. Sri Lanka’s judicial records show that conviction rates in rape and child abuse cases-- like so any other crimes--are painfully low due to various reasons including improper recording of complaints, failure to collect evidence and most of all the reluctance of victims to take legal action because of the social stigma involved. For them it means languishing in courts, going through cumbersome procedures and at times suffering from double victimization like having to go through it all over again and again or reliving the harrowing experience of narrating in public the agonizing experience of woman or child who was abused.

After all they have to return to the same social environment where they will have little or no sympathy but become the subject of gossip and slander or trial in the village.
In this light in addition to collecting information, it is necessary to see that complaints are properly recorded, properly investigated and the culprits are brought to Courts and punished severely.   

Most importantly it is necessary to have a change of attitude towards rape and child abuse victims in society through a national initiative by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, the National Child Protection Authority and the Police Department.
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