Child sexual abuse::NCPA to launch massive awareness campaign | Sunday Observer

Child sexual abuse::NCPA to launch massive awareness campaign

On Monday, January 6, four students were sexually harassed by a doctor attached to a hospital in Ampara. The girls had visited the doctor to obtain medical certificates to participate in a marathon. Later, following a police complaint, the Ampara Magistrate remanded the accused till January 21.

This incident comes several days after a 45-year-old tuition teacher was arrested after he went into a guest house in Nallathanniya with two 16-year-old girls. They were heading to Adam’s Peak when the man has suggested resting at the lodge. He was arrested and later released on Rs. 100,000 personal bail by the Hatton Magistrate. The case will be next heard on February 12.

Sadly, these are not isolated cases. Statistics by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) reveals that in 2018 a total of 9,449 complaints relating to child abuse were reported. This included 555 sexual harassment cases, 375 grave sexual abuse and 311 rape cases.

This situation has not changed over the years. In 2017 there has been 9,014 complaints lodged with the authority, in 2016 the number was 9,361, and 10,732 in 2015.

Chairman (NCPA) Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana speaking to the Sunday Observer on the matter said that the system in place as first response as well as follow-up services is sufficient.

However he also pointed out that there is an acute need for this information of the system in place to be disseminated among the people.

“In reality we have a very good support system laid out for children who are victims of child abuse. Unfortunately they don’t know the rights and services that they are entitled to. That’s the system failure existing,” he said.

Speaking about the first response into a child abuse incident he said that the child undergoes several layers of screening.

The children undergo a medico-legal examination after which they are sent to a psychiatrist to see if they are affected mentally, then they are checked on STDs also they are sent to a pediatrician since they are children. If there is evidence that there was intercourse in any incident then the victim is also sent to a VOG to get a sperm sample and to attend to other details.

They are also routinely followed up. Probation officers attend to it. Also there are child right promotion officers at Divisional Secretariats.

They look to other issues that the child may face consequence to such an incident.

Divisional Child Protection Officer is entrusted with looking at a child’s safety post incident. There is also the District Psycho-social Officer.

Awareness therefore plays a great role. There are officials to look into each and every aspect of such incidents and to look into the wellbeing of children who are victims of sexual and other abuse.

There is also an official to look into non formal education, to look into drop outs or children who do not go to school - Child Rights Promotional officer (CRPO) and the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO).

“We will be launching an awareness campaign to make sure that people are aware of their rights as well as the services available to them. Sexual Health Education is also a part of this which is handled by the Health Ministry,” he said.

There is a properly laid down network established to address these issues but the problem is that this network is not stimulated from the grassroots.

“As the chairman of the NCPA I have initiated a large awareness campaign. Each and every school will have a poster including this information. So that they know where and whom they can go to at an issue,” he said.

Psycho–social development is handled by the District Psycho-social Officer who is designated to handle the issue. They have counseling and when the officer is of the view that a child/victim needs that service they are sent for counseling.

Even for children with special needs the system has put in place officers to deal with their development and social wellbeing.

Every Divisional Secretary is equipped with officers to look into the wellbeing of handicapped persons and also into the plantation community.

The NCPA, established by the National Child Protection Authority Act (NCPAA) No. 50 0f 1998 is the sole authority mandated with the safety and welfare of ‘children’ in the country, tasked with the prevention of child abuse and the protection and treatment of children who are victims of such abuse. They are also tasked with the formulation of a national policy for the same.

While a recent report by the government auditor had revealed that after 20 years of establishment NCPA had not met the first goal they were tasked with (Article 14 of the NCPAA), on Wednesday (January 8), they issued a statement that a discussion was held with officials from 14 ministries, presided over by the Secretary to the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and Social Security A.S.M.S Mahanama and NCPA Chairman, Dr. Muditha Vidanapathirana. “The focus of the discussion was on formulating a workable Five Year Plan (2020-2025) to implement the National Policy on Child Protection (NPCP),” it noted.

An earlier statement from NCPA revealed that Cabinet approval for the National Policy on Child Protection was given on October 29, 2019 and the Policy is available on the official website of the NCPA (www.childprotection.gov.lk) for the public to access.

Comments