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Stricter laws needed to combat women, child abuse - Minister

Laws should be amended and given more teeth since child and women abuse is rapidly on the increase. Child and women abusers must be punished severely without being given a general amnesty, Child Development and Women's Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyadde said.

"Discussions are underway to reform laws to sentence rapists to life imprisonment. The ministry has taken a number of direct and indirect measures to eradicate this from the country," he added.

The minister was speaking at the International Women's Day national ceremony at Temple Trees held under the patronage of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa yesterday. International Women's Day is celebrated from 1911. This year it was celebrated for the101st time under the theme 'Let's protect the girl child'.

The ministry had launched several programmes to make the public aware of how to prevent incidents of abuse. Women development officers were also appointed to the North and East to protect women and children from abuse, Minister Karalliyadde said.

The minister also urged the media not to highlight matters which arouse sexual feelings and curiosity among the public. The media should also be careful when presenting the news about certain incidents such as rape and child abuse, he said.

"Empowering women is more important for the development of the country. We should understand that if we can empower the girl, we can empower the whole world," Child Development and Women's Affairs Deputy Minister M L A M Hizbullah said.

He said under the Mahinda Chinthana, priority was given to strengthen women.

He appreciated the Economic Development Ministry decision to establish one million domestic economic units throughout the country to enhance the living standard of families.

A number of books written to mark International Women's Day - 2012 including Women and domestic law and life in Sri Lanka and SAARC countries written by Dr Nimal Samarasundara and the first copy of the quarterly magazine published by the Child Development and Women's Affairs Ministry were presented to the President and the First Lady at this ceremony.

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa also launched the programme 'Stop rape, not tomorrow but today' organised by the ministry.

Eight women who rendered a special service at national level, 10 women's organizations who rendered a special service to the public and women's development activities at district level received certificates and gifts from President Rajapaksa and the First Lady.

Two hundred and fifty women from the the Northern and Eastern Provinces participated in the International Women's Day National celebrations for the first time.

Attorney General Eva Wanasundara,Child Development and Women's Affairs Ministry Secretary Sumithra Rahubadda also participated.

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