Do we have a mechanism to prevent child abuse and crime? – Philip Dissanayake

 - July 30th, 2021 - 

There is a lot of talk about the death of the girl who was employed as a servant in the house of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen. The media has been reporting on various investigations into the incident, and yesterday the media had reported that two other girls had died at Minister Rishad’s residence earlier.

When the mother of the girl who died recently came to the Human Rights Commission to lodge a complaint in this regard, she told the media that she could not be satisfied with the ongoing investigations. She added that she had doubts about the initial police investigation and the inquest into the incident because both were carried out by Muslims.

This story of hers is not so strange when looking at our past. She may have had many experiences of cases where the law was bent in this way on the basis of race, caste, religion and social status. Somehow we wait to see if these tests are fair, impartial and efficient.

At first glance, we see that the police, the Attorney General’s Department and other anti-crime units are working very efficiently in this case. Also, the progress of these investigations can be seen as the headline news in the mainstream media for the past few days.

But in a very short period of time, the interest in the media in this regard will wane and at the same time the public enthusiasm will slowly fade. In order for such a tragedy not to happen again, there must be a continuous public influence in this regard, and with the legal and other reforms that will follow, such situations will be prevented from recurring in the society. That is how other countries solved such problems.

But the last seven decades have shown that we are not. Many parents claim that we keep our children alive. There is a popular saying among us that the best thing is for the children. But the National Child Protection Authority says that child abuse takes place somewhere in our country every two hours. Sri Lanka has a history of 2500 years of proud history, with patriotic people listening to Pirith and sermons from morning till night, and Sri Lanka has a long history of being a country of adults who cannot protect even their six or four children who do not understand.

Police investigations and trials in this regard are two areas that should not be underestimated, even if the media attention is not focused on a country where the rule of law prevails. It must be done very efficiently and systematically and quickly. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) recently announced that it will set up nine courts in all nine provinces to hear more than 8,000 child abuse complaints a year.

It is an important step. However, no matter how many courts are established, in order to prevent such crimes, investigations must be carried out in a very meticulous, scientific and systematic manner. Its main responsibility rests with the police, including the CID. But we need to think very deeply about whether we have a police force with such capabilities.

Two incidents were reported to us recently regarding two abuses at two police stations owned by the Police Department, which is on duty to protect all citizens, including children, from conducting investigations in this regard. One was reported from Padukka and the other from Neluwa, Galle.

The girl’s mother had alleged that a 15-year-old girl had been kissed by an on-duty police constable at the Neluwa police station in Galle. The suspect police constable was later arrested.

The parents had gone to the Neluwa police station to lodge a complaint after learning that the girl had been abused by a long-standing affair with a young man in the area.

According to the complaint, the police had also arrested the youth and had detained the girl along with her mother that night on the pretext of referring her for a medical examination. She states that the incident took place at midnight that day. Her statement can be viewed at the link below. (https://www.aithiya.lk/9515/sexual-harassment-of-police-officers-in-sri-lanka

A similar incident was reported by the Padukka Police. The incident took place when a young man identified through the face book went to the Padukka police station to lodge a complaint regarding the sexual harassment of a mother by a police officer.

Her father, who went to report the incident, was arrested by the police for his impulsive behavior in the police station, and the girl and her niece and mother have been detained by the police. Her mother said she wanted to go to the bathroom in the morning, and the elderly police officer who took her to the bathroom reportedly tried to molest her mother, who was returning from the bathroom. There, her mother screamed, and a group of other police officers came and brutally beat her, where she was pronounced unconscious. Her statement regarding this incident can be viewed at the link below.

Both incidents show the current state of the Police Department, which has been set up to protect child abuse and the lives of the people of this country in general and to prevent crime. If you agree that we are in a situation like this, you must find the answer through an in-depth discussion that goes beyond simple criticism or traditional protests.

-Philip Dissanayake-

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