Collective responsibility to combat child abuse
Evolving an effective plan to retard and block the on – rush of sex
crimes on children is as difficult as cleansing the Augean stables. It
is necessary to explore the ways and means of getting rid of the
potential perpetrator. Who is the potential abuser? Who do you point
your finger at?
Sociologists believe that poverty is the root cause and that unless
and until poverty is eradicated this social evil will continue. In fact
this view applies well to child rape relating to incest where the
perpetrator comes from the family itself and especially those living in
slums and coolie lines. Men addicted to drugs and habitual drinking,
frustrated husbands of broken homes including those where the wives had
gone abroad to earn money for the sake of the family pounce upon their
own flesh and blood and to satisfy their lust and hunger for sex. This
is a vicious circle. Gang rape is on the increase.
H.C. Kalutara Case No.414/ 2012 was an instance where the accused had
ravished his daughter of 12 and offered her to a stranger. H.C
Senegalese case No. 76/ 10 was another instance where the accused had
sexually abused a child of 11 months, his own child. Readers will be
perturbed to hear of a horrific case reported in a daily paper on August
30 under the heading, ’Man sentenced to death for raping, killing own
little daughter’. I was shocked. I clarified from the learned Judge.
The case was H.C. Avissawella No. 11 / 2010. Judgement was delivered
on August 27. The accused’s wife had deserted him with three sons by
her. Thereafter, he was living with another woman. She had committed
suicide. There were three girls from that union. Two elder girls were
living with a relative. The deceased seven years of age was living with
him. The charge was murder. After the alleged act he had buried her body
in the kitchen. He was found guilty and was sentenced to death. Even
though there was no charge of rape the medical evidence had revealed
that she had been sexually assaulted and ravished earlier.
Coming to crime stories where the crime doer came from the extended
family, H.C.Kalutara Case No. 252/11 decided on January 23 was an
instance where the victim, a child of 14 was savagely raped by her
maternal uncle. Delivering the judgment the High Court Judge said if
these brutal crimes were allowed to continue no child would be spared.
He imposed a jail term of 20 years rigorous imprisonment on the convict.
In the High Court of Avissawella Case No.149/04 the accused 25 years
old was the husband of the 11 year old victim’s mother’s sister.
Ironically the crime scene was a house owned by another maternal aunt,
closed at the time. In H.C. Balapitya a child of seven years was
ravished by her step mother.
In cases where the perpetrator is your own father, a sibling,
grandfather or an uncle the child victim was so innocent and helpless
she would never ever expect him to harm her who had every right to trust
him and turn to him for protection.
Apart from this category of child abusers there is a host of child
sex criminals hovering around, some already apprehended and produced
before court but still a large number remaining undetected.
Those detected and produced before court include neighbours, friends
of family members, total strangers, managers of children’s homes, school
teachers including principals, drivers, gangsters, law enforcement
officers, politicians in the lower rung. A classification is extremely
difficult. There is no exaggeration. It is nothing but the reality
portrating the magnitude of the problem. It is just the tip of the
Potential child sex abusers are those yet to come or who are in the
offing. They are adults. As already stated an analysis carried out into
300 child abuse cases covering the period from 2002 to 2004 by the then
State Counsel Kalhari Liyanage, presently a judicial officer revealed
that 52 percent of the offenders were 20 to 40 years of age, 12 percent
were between 40 to 60 years of age and 4 percent were over 60 years. One
can safely presume that potential child sex crime doers are going to be
males above 20 years of age.
How to restrain and check this alarming epidemic is a million dollar
question. I canvassed the opinions of some religious dignitaries. They
hold the view that the remedy lies in developing mind control whereby
one can retard and block the incoming unwholesome thoughts. That would
be by meditation. I don’t know whether sociologists, criminologists,
educationists and people in other sciences or professions would concur
I don’t have an iota of doubt that the mechanics of mind control is
the cure. I have personally observed that it is the children and the
womenfolk who seem to be interested in seeking solace in their
respective religions. Of the adult male population only the old people
who would be interested in listening to Bana preaching or attend mass or
any other religious festivals.
On September 10, 2014 I had the occasion to view the Buddhist
programme on ‘Opportune hearing of the Dhamma [Kalena Dhamma savnang]‘
conducted by the Rupavahini. In the crowd gathered to listen to the Bana
preaching just a handful of males were present. They too were old
people. It is well and good if this mechanism could be effectively
utilised to combat the menace child sex crime episode.
In the alternative I would venture upon the possibility whether some
feasible solutions could be formulated by exploring the punitive or
deterrent aspect of dealing crime scenario. I may highlight it in my
It is with the public interest in the back of his mind that a
journalist would obtain information and publish it to the world at
large. It is within the purview of his profession to expose wrong doings
which would otherwise go unreported. High profile child rape cases of
Tangalle and Akuressa are cases in point. Media and websites must
explore the possibility of exposing the photographs and names of
criminals convicted of rape. Exposing the identity of the convicted
criminal is important to deter the potential child abusers. It is
important to highlight the sentence.
Some High Court Judges told me that the media is double quick to
report the incident as it occurs, nevertheless slow to publish the
conviction and sentence. Media can change the people’s negative thinking
through their news stories. They should not reveal the identity of the
The victims of sex crimes and their families are entitled to
anonymity to protect themselves from reprisals, social stigma and
exclusion. The Chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA)
has underscored the need to formulate guidelines in child sex crime
The writer is a Former Director, Sri Lanka Judges Institute.