Over 2000 child abuse cases a year

According to the Ministry of Justice, around 2000 cases involving some form of violence towards a child are filed with the Attorney General’s Department each year, UNICEF said in a statement today.

Most of the violence is taking place within the family among those a child knows and trusts.

A 2005 UNICEF-supported study conducted in Anuradhapura, Colombo South and Ratnapura revealed that 70 per cent of incidents were inflicted by a relative or someone close to the family, while 27 per cent were within a relationship, and only 3 per cent of incidents were inflicted by a stranger or person unknown to the victim.

The Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs has launched a campaign on a ‘Violence Free Society for Children’ in partnership with UNICEF.

The launch event took place in Anuradhapura followed by training for those working for children including probation officers, school principals and child rights protection officers, UNICEF said in the sattement.

The campaign on a ‘Violence Free Society for Children’ seeks to break the culture of silence and prevent child abuse.

Several activities will be conducted across the most vulnerable and high risk districts in the country to build awareness on violence against children and child abuse in communities, schools, homes and among politicians; and to develop the capacity of the child protection system to better identify and effectively respond to victims of violence and abuse.

“The Government’s vision is to create a violence free society for children, to prevent abuse and exploitation of innocent lives and to create an environment where children will be free to enjoy their childhood,” the Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Tissa Karaliyadde said.

The ‘Violence Free Society for Children’ campaign will help: build capacity of the protection system through training of government staff, who work with families and children, to identify and follow-up cases of violence; equip children with the skills needed to protect themselves; raise public awareness; and advocacy among parliamentarians to increase the state resource allocation for child protection, policy, legal reforms and awareness raising work.

The UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Reza Hossaini said “One child abused is one too many. Violence destroys the very essence of childhood and spirals into their adult life. Children must be made to feel safe, free from molestation and abuse and importantly, be able to trust the very people who are supposed to protect them.”