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It’s Not OK!

Diarietou Gaye's picture

Every day, children over the world are molested, raped, abused, and killed. Who is responsible? We all are, as parents, teachers, prominent personalities, journalists, neighbors, politicians, religious figures, men and women of this world; we are all responsible, including and especially those of us who have decided to be silent observers of the horrible news we see in the media.

It is not OK to accept what we hear or see as part of a normal life. It is not OK to just talk about it and feel it is not your fault or even worse not your child. It is not OK to keep still.

The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when sexual intercourse takes place between an adult and an underage person (in Sri Lanka, under 16). That underage person is legally incapable of consenting to sex. These persons deserve our special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth. Institutions that are supposed to protect them are incapable of finding solutions to this unethical dilemma.

In Sri Lanka there were 1,169 reported cases of statutory rape in 2011. Between January and March 2012, the number was already 317. Add to these hundreds of child assaults as well as murders and incestuous relationships. We all know that these numbers are an underestimation of the reality. How many of these children are silent, scared, afraid of rejection and stigmatization? Does anyone think about what their life is going to be like after such trauma?

It is not OK.

As a women and a mother, I truly believe that acting together and saying NO to all sort of violence against women and children in Sri Lanka and all over the world is the way forward. How do we do that? Let’s be heard, raise our voice in a big and loud NO, and let us spread the word to our neighbors, friend, and family in villages: It is not OK. It is illegal, is punishable by law and the shame should reside with the perpetrator, not the victim. Let us help put the blame back to where it belongs, not on the victim or her family but on the perpetrator. Let’s make sure that we spread the word and stop the indifference. We owe it to each and every child we brought into this world.

It is not OK to be raped by an elder, a parent, a neighbor, or people you would expect support from. It is not OK to be beaten up and tortured and abused as a child.

It is not OK!

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on
Kudos for keeping the flame alive for the protection of all those vulnerable, young and innocent children worldwide, whose rights are continuously violated. There is no justice for these victims. THAT, is not OK! Thank you for drawing attention again to this crime against humanity. How can I be a part of the solution?

Submitted by Nachiket Mor on
I understand that abuse of children, even very young children, often by people that they know and trust, is more common than is first apparent. An organization in India (Arpan: http://www.arpan.org.in/whatwedo.html) has systematically started working with a number of schools to educate children through their Personal Safety Education (PSE) program. They are now hoping to introduce these concepts as a part of the core curriculum in formal textbooks and find a way to make this a class in every school around the country. It is their view that if the child is made more aware of what kind of touch is "okay" and what is not and to say no in a strong way and to make a trusted adult of any attempt at "improper touch", it can go a long way in helping prevent child sexual abuse.

Submitted by Nadie Kammallaweera on
I am a mother of a 6 year old child. I am ashamed of my silence in this regard. I want to do something, something which will contribute in anyway to protect another small, innocent soul, being brutally molested, raped, and murdered by a brutal adult in this country..... In several cases, the culprits were politicians, or closely affiliated to political parties and provincial leaders. During the past few weeks, several national level leaders of the government, including ministers, heads of state media organizations have made statements, regarding these child rape incidents.....In those statements they have openly defended the rapists by putting the sole blame on parents for not providing protection to their young children. A head of a government owned Radio Station had suggested to put stitches on young girl children's vagina...!! A minister had publicly told that the girls are being raped, because they don't dress properly and expose the parts of their bodies...... We should put pressure on the president and the government to take actions against the rapist politicians.....and the minsters and other officials who issue the above kind of statements.......Our president can't just grin at children and hold them and pose for photographs......He should take genuine actions...... We should urge the religious leaders to do something in this regard......... Today, ministers, provincial council members, Buddhist monks, principals, teachers.......are in the rapists list in Sri Lanka. The whole society is rotting. This is an issue which everybody, including the educationalists, religious leaders, civil society, media people, law authorities, psychologists...etc,should get together and discuss.....Something serious should be done at this point.... Otherwise, all the women should say that they are not going to give birth to children in this country.......What is the point of bringing children to a land, where there is no respect, love, or value to these little, helpless, innocent souls...

Submitted by Anonymous on
Dear mother your comments are absolutle correct.My solutions are if the insident will be heppen, all the media should be flash the news with suspects photo and their family details,the same time foreign media also do the same.Secound point the World Bank,IMF, UN urgeh the government and link these types of issue to the loan grants.Third point the rest of the world specialy request the government stop these type of insident immediately other wise international tourist board will be announced not to go these type of countries for tourist purpose.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Well said Diarietou Gaye! It's not OK to be raped and abused but it's even worse when the rape and abuse is being justified, trivialised by men in power. In the past few years we have seen the head of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, a Minister of the Sri Lankan Government, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Washington, all make stupid, uninformed and insensitive statements. See this blog post, A stitch in time saves Child abuse http://no-to-polsambol.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/stitch-in-time-prevents-child-abuse.html and this youtube vide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9cJGs12JXo&feature=youtu.be that illustrate what I mean. In a country with the first woman Prime Minister, a woman President, a woman Attorney General, and an incumbent woman Chief Justice, it's not OK either that these powerful women are silent. Shame!

Submitted by Anonymous on
Its about time every civilized person stands up and say "Its not OK" to the culture of impunity. Its about time all Sri Lankan and international institutions and individuals come together and stop this inhuman behaviour.

Submitted by mawella prematilleke on
Child abuse in Sri Lanka as explained your article is alarming, there is no question in that. But this is the situation after the beginning of peace and freedom Think about, the period under the war. Children in war zone areas, were subject to not only rape but abused or killed, some time ended up as child soldier. In case of non war zones, there were so many been become victims, But hidden.Because then priority was the war. Nobody concerned value of life.But everybody concerned own safety. As the situation is now exposed, the State should impose strict penalties like rigorous imprisonment or death penalty for crime of minor.

Submitted by Mano on
It is an excellent provoking message, creating a golden opportunity to start helping the vulnerable children. We have heard enough. We should initiate action rather than exploring the number and type of incidents. Let us respect our children, protect them, and empower them for a positive and bright future. Everyone has a role to play in this challenge. Are you ready to take a lead?

Submitted by Anonymous on
As a mother I am horrified at the threat that my children are exposed to day in and day out. No one should have their childhood stolen from them in the form of rape by an elder. I am also deeply frustrated that not enough is being done to eradicate this menace from the root. It is said that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”, but does it hold true for Sri Lanka? Can all women unite to save our children from this horrible fate? Kudos to the media institutions for bringing to light the sad state of our society. Now it is up to us to take a stand.

Submitted by Malinda on
Child abuse includes ill-treating children in way of sexual, physical, emotional and neglect. Mostly discussed form is the sexual abuse as it generally encompass other three forms too. Statistics shows that child abuse has become a global issue not in Asia and Africa but in western hemisphere too. But given the social and cultural values practiced in Sri Lanka, this phenomenon cannot be tolerated anymore. Whilst the 30 year conflict in Sri Lanka could be cited as a major cuase for abnormal behavioural patterns of people, the other causes cannot be ignored. Considering the unique social and cultural system practiced by Sri Lankans over 1000 years, my personal view is that religion has to play a major role in this kind of issues. But unfortunately, all religion entities in Sri Lanka has ignored this issue, may be religious leaders considered this as a trivial issue or probably succumb to other exigencies like politics, racial issues etc and personal agendas. However, National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) along with UNICEF has and taken some steps sometimes back to educate the children with some success, but again on "prevention", but not on "protection". Whilst addressing children on 'prevention' is going on, we can address the issue of 'protection' by targeting would be perpetrators i.e. generally the males. A media (both elctronic and print) campaign similar to "Corruption" campaign by ADB is one suggesstion. But, most important thing to keep in mind while organizing a this kind of campaign is that we should not "wake the sleeping lions" by giving a message that generate such vulgar ideas among traget group. Proscribed famous tele drama series "Angili Salakuna (Finger Print)" is a good example of giving a wrong message in good faith.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Thank you Diarietou Gaye. It is a sad situation when the leaders and people who should take action in a country trivialize and even defend the abuse of children. But it is an even sadder situation when the people of a country display a high level of apathy. The newspapers of this country highlight cases of rape and abuse daily, yet all we do is read the stories, talk about it and then go on with our business of living. Sri Lanka today is what it is because of the extraordinary lack of interest people take in the welfare of others. It is time to stand up and be counted.

Submitted by sajeeva on
Thank you for your concern. It is timely Child protection in this country was NEVER linked to either social or economic policy since the words "child protection" were loosely bandied about by elite professionals in this country. Our children are now paying the price for 2 decades of superficial activism and criminal prosecutions that hardly scratched the surface of the needs of vulnerable children and their families. We need to overhaul the whole operation now and make children and families our partners before talking about protecting them

Submitted by Malinda on
Excerpts of recent report of UNICEF on Child Abuse "UNICEF WARNS OF IMPACT OF HIGH PREVALENCE OF CHILD ABUSE IN EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC" says '....the consistently high prevalence of child maltreatment throughout a region with such a large number of children was “distressing.” In addition, amongst other findings, the report found that between 14 and 30 per cent of the region’s boys and girls report experiencing forced sex, and for many young people their first experiences of sexual intercourse is forced. “We need to strengthen national child protection systems to protect children who are already experiencing harm, and to create environments where abuse is prevented and the risks of violence to children are mitigated,” Ms. McCoy said. The damage to children caused by sexual and physical abuse is often very serious and lifelong, UNICEF notes. Children who are abused, neglected, exploited or experience violence are more likely to be depressed and experience other types of mental health problems, to think about or attempt suicide, to have more physical symptoms – both medically explained and unexplained – and to engage in more high-risk behaviours than their non-abused counterparts. The report’s finding will be reviewed by child protection experts from governments, the UN system and civil society at a meeting that will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday. Aug 7 2012 11:10AM

Submitted by Anonymous on
You have painted a very good case here. If you think thats a bad one, my country the stats are even more alarming.. Furthermore considering this a muslim state, this is evenmore unacceptable considering the values of islam we preach.. According to statistics revealed by the Gender Department in April this year, between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported from the family and children service centres. 1,005 of these cases involved minors while 133 of these cases involved victims aged older than 18. Approximately one third of the 81 cases involving children less than one year involved neglect. Sexual abuse was reported in a quarter of the 192 cases for age group one to five, and in a fifth of the 230 cases age group five to 10. Isnt it time to say NO ITS NOT OK in this country? the population may be insignficant in South asia terms but arent these numbers comparatively large enough for agencies like the UNICEF to pick up and demand rightful justice for these children, and why not demand that if its not done so no aid will be given? In this country a murderer can get away with 12 yrs imprisonment and a person who has violated a child (thereby spoiling the childs every chance of a normal living life) gets a meager 10yrs? This is unacceptable and the pnishment has to be unpardonable by any decree, and the person should be labelled as a molestor and never freely let loose in a society.

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