It’s Not OK!

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ImageEvery 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!


Diarietou Gaye

Vice President and World Bank Group Corporate Secretary

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