Violence against Sri Lankan children “too readily used and tolerated” according to new UN report
A new UN study finds that Sri Lankan children are at risk of violence in their homes, at school, on the street and when they are made to work. The study says that neglect and exploitation are also forms of violence, and that sexual exploitation of children in South Asia is widespread.
The United Nations Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children is published at a time when many Sri Lankan children have been exposed to danger and disruption during the recent upsurge in conflict on the island. The global study was compiled using input from regional and national consultations with child experts, governments, NGOs and UN agencies, as well as children and young people themselves, including representatives from Sri Lanka.
A national consultation in Sri Lanka in April 2005 reported that there had been significant achievements in creating new laws and institutions to protect children, but called for a change in society’s attitudes toward violence against children. The consultation concluded that decades of armed conflict in the country had created a degree of tolerance and acceptance of violence. Delegates cited the widespread use of corporal punishment against children as a serious problem, and said that children in childcare institutions were also at risk of violence.
At the South Asia regional consultation in May 2005, a panel of young people called for adults to listen to children’s suggestions on how to prevent violence against children and to act on them. They also called for governments to bring their laws into line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to make sure they are strictly implemented.
“Violence against children is not inevitable and it can never be justified,” said Joanna Van Gerpen, UNICEF’s Representative in Sri Lanka. “We need to listen to children and learn from them, and involve them in finding solutions.”
UNICEF calls on all parties to ensure the safety and well-being of all Sri Lankan children and to protect their rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For more information on the study go to http://www.violencestudy.org/r25
Junko Mitani, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka, tel: 94-11-2555270 ext 250 Mobile: 94-(0)-777416742