Daily News Online

Tuesday, 16 August 2011






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Strengthening child protection

The violence directed at the children of this land in some quarters calls for the intensification of child protection measures. We are aware that the state has put in place some very stable institutional mechanisms to contain the evil but the challenge is to ensure that the young continue to enjoy emotional and physical security uninterruptedly.

There is a clear need for substantial research into this species of violence but the research problem does not seem to be attracting local sociologists and criminologists to a notable degree. Why this is so is in itself a thought-provoking research question. Is it because young lives are thought by some to be inconsequential?

We will leave this question open to some thoughtful inputs from our readers and get down to some reflections on the more immediate issues in the context of this problem of child-focused violence.

A glance at our front pages over the past couple of days will reveal the degree to which our children are proving vulnerable to criminal elements of numerous kinds. There was the news, for instance, of a Colombo-based syndicate involved in sending young, below-working-age girls abroad on forged documents. Some of these victims were reportedly subjected to sexual abuse by foreign employment agents steering the shady business. Apparently, the lessons from the Rizana Rafeek tragedy are yet to be learnt.

There were also the cases of the young boy who was apparently killed by his mother’s paramour in Pugoda and the young girl who was very nearly abducted by the money-hungry son of her father’s employee in Ratnapura. Thus, the inference is inescapable that renewed attention must be paid to the issue of child protection.

We would be misguiding ourselves if we infer from these developments that tougher law and order measures alone would suffice as answers to the problem of child-directed violence. If some sections are under the impression that childhood happiness and security are inconsequential things, it is clear that the issue is closely bound-up with the value structure of adult humans.

The condition of Lankan children could never have been the same following the conversion of some of them into cannon fodder by the LTTE in the course of its 30-year long terror campaign against the state and the people of Sri Lanka. Physical and emotional abuse of children was always present in our midst to a degree, but the evil took on the magnitude of an overwhelming outrage and shame with the brute force the LTTE unconscionably directed against the children of the North and East.

The LTTE child soldier phenomenon could be described as one of the worst forms of inhumanity the children of Sri Lanka were compelled to suffer. That such suffering should never be the lot of our children, is our wish.

But given the fact that the conflict brutalized sections within Sri Lanka to an unheard of degree, one should not be surprised if the savagery of those years continues to linger. Clearly, it is perverting the relations between some adults and the children being put in their care.

The government has done well to put the women and children of this country under the purview of a separate ministry but we urge that more be done to ensure the physical and emotional security of these vulnerable sections. Besides, institutions such as the National Child Protection Authority should be progressively strengthened to take-up the emerging challenges in the child protection sphere. The NCPA has been doing a good job of work but we believe its law enforcement and research arms should be further bolstered.

Fortunately for Sri Lanka, our Head of State and government, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is one who cares very profoundly for the young. He points to what needs to be done by the adult world for the children of this country by talking to the young for a while every day in the most affectionate fashion.

The adult world needs to take the cue from our President. Adults who believe they do not have time for their young need to spend more and more quality time with their youngsters, showering affection on them and guiding them to lead ethically-conscious, useful lives. In other words, inasmuch as law and order measures are needed to blunt the problem of child-directed violence, more and more care and affection need to be showered on the young to enable them to experience emotional security of the most durable kind.

Call for Week of Reconciliation

I propose that President Mahinda Rajapaksa calls for a ‘Week of Reconciliation’ under his patronage to mobilize the whole country to sustain peace, harmony and goodwill among all citizens and communities. This Week could coincide with the planned submission of the report by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) on November 15, 2011.

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On giving the Grease Devils their due

Among the few JVP posters of the eighties I could identify with was one pertaining to the law. It was something along the following lines: ‘paalakayini, thopilama thope neethi kadanavaanam, evata avanatha veemata apisoodaanam netha!’ Addressed to the rulers, it expressed the view that if the rulers themselves break the rules, then there is no compulsion on the part of the ruled to submit to them.

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Significance of Ramadhan fasting

Fasting is a religious institution almost as universal as prayer, and in Islam it is one of the five fundamental practical ordinance, the other four being declaration of faith, prayer, poor rate (Zakath) and pilgrimage to Mecca (Haj).

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