A strong case for enhanced punishment advocated
It would be worthwhile to quote from a front page editorial of
Johannesburg’s Star Newspaper making an urgent call to the nation
regarding an alarming trend in the incidence of women and child rape
crime in South Africa. It read ‘Stand up. Speak out. Help us turn this
evil around once and for all’.
In the first week of September people were shocked to hear from the
television channels and daily papers an unwholesome news item of rape
and murder of a child of seven years. The incident happened in the
Akmeemana Police Division in Galle. The predator was an unemployed
frustrated youth. He belonged to ‘Don’t care a damn’ category of crime
doers. The child was alone in her house at the time of attack.
The suspect was promptly apprehended but according to the police
reports he drowned while attempting to escape from custody. It is
unimaginable that this sort of gruesome and blood curdling crimes are
happening in a country blessed by the great religions, Buddhism,
Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. This is bleak and an appalling
On September 7 Wattala Police reported to Wattala Magistrate’s Court
a horrific and sickening case of grave sexual abuse of a child of 12, a
grade 6 student by her paternal grandfather. Her father was dead. Her
mother had gone abroad seeking employment to run the household leaving
the child with her paternal grandparents.
She had no qualms about the child’s safety. It was in the dead of the
night the grandmother heard the cry of the child calling her. She found
the suspect in the act of sexually assaulting the child in a brutal
manner. [In fact the complaint filed by the police described the brutal
acts he had committed on the hapless girl who was in his care and
On October 1 as the morning sun rose above the golden pinnacle of the
most sacred Dalada Maligawa, Kandy town was perturbed by the news of an
act of suspected child rape crime committed in a school van parked on
the other side of the Kandy Lake facing the Maligawa.
I verified the veracity of the news from the Kandy Chief Magistrate’s
Court. The news was accurate. On information the officers of the Child
and Women Protection Division of Kandy Police had apprehended the
suspect and took the girl into custody. She is a grade 12 student of 17.
The suspect is a married man of 27 with two children.
Investigations have revealed that she had been going to school in
that van since 2011 and the suspect used to sexually abuse her from the
age of 14. The police found that the van windows were covered with black
curtains.They were produced before the Chief Magistrate of Kandy. The
suspect was remanded.
Child and Women Protection Division of the Kalutara South Police are
highly perturbed by the occurrence of a spate of child rape crime
incidents in the Kalutara Police Division. Two of them are gang rape
cases. In the first incident a 13-year-old girl had been raped in a
three wheeler on November 1.
Already three suspects were produced before the Magistrate’s Court of
Matugama. Four more suspects are evading arrest.In the other case a
14-year-old girl had been accosted by her lover and she was forced to
have sexual intercourse with his friends. Apparently, these acts had
been videoed to blackmail the victim.
Another case was filed on November 4 in the Kalutara Magistrate’s
Court where the main predator was her father. After ravishing his
daughter he had sold her to a chilli powder seller. Police had arrested
the latter but the father is absconding. The readers will remember the
Kalutara High Court case of the Republic vs Ajantha Silva where the
facts were very much similar. It was a case where the father after
ravishing his daughter of 12 had offered her to a stranger who had seen
the incident. Both were indicted.
The stranger died in prison while the father was convicted and the
trial Judge had imposed the maximum sentence of 20 years rigorous
imprisonment on the convicted father. The sentence was passed on July
The judge said it is sad to see this type of brutal crimes happening
in a Buddhist country. Recurrence of a similar incident in the same
Kalutara Police Division indicates that even deterrent punishment is no
answer to curb child rape and grave sexual abuse of children.
Readers will remember that at the commencement of my series of
articles on Grave Child Abuse and Child Rape I said that if these
anti-social happenings are ignored with a cynical sneer we are evading a
menace which would destroy the entire social strata. I am reminded of an
interesting quote from Shakespeare, Come what come may.
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day’. [Macbeth].
How to contain such brutal crimes is a million dollar question. High
Court Judges with whom I discussed this topic told me that in almost
every case where the accused were found guilty of committing the crimes
they were punished with the maximum jail terms and heavy fines and
sizeable compensation. Nonetheless, they don’t see any decrease in the
number of new indictments coming to court.
I am not preaching a kind of puritanism. Nevertheless all civic
minded Sri Lankans irrespective of their religion if they do genuinely
love their children who are innocent but helpless and expect them to
live in peace and tranquillity enjoying their childhood must concur with
me when I say that this dastardly crime against humanity should be
countered in the strongest possible terms. A lacklustre campaign will be
useless. It must be eliminated root and branch. Otherwise in the
alternative close your sense bases and wait as Shakespeare said ‘Come
what come may’.
Already the Penal Code as amended in 1995 has introduced rigorous
jail terms for child rape crime and grave sexual abuse of children. In
terms of Section 363 [e] as amended by the Penal Code [Amendment] Act
No.22 of 1995 read with Section 364[e] the convict ‘shall be punished
with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not
exceeding 20 years’. In addition, court will impose a fine and payment
Predators who are public officers or who are in a position of
authority, or being on the management or staff of a remand home or
children’s homes or of a hospital as enumerated in the aforesaid section
are caught up in this classification. So are predators convicted of gang
Still more stringent terms are imposed on a convict who has committed
rape on a woman who is under 16 and the victim stands towards the man in
any of the degrees of relationship enumerated in section 364A of the Act
[incest]. Here the mandatory minimum has been raised to 15 years.To
prosecute a person for incest it is necessary to have the written
sanction of the Attorney General.
Grave sexual abuse crime is dealt with in the section 365B. This
provision covers both the definition and the punishment aspect of the
crime, ‘Grave sexual abuse is committed by any person who, for sexual
gratification, does any act, by the use of his genitals or any other
part of the body of another person, being an act which does not amount
The punishment is heavy. Where the victim is under 18 shall be
punished with rigorous imprisonment to a term not less than 10 years and
not exceeding 20 years and with fine and payment of compensation’. The
victim’s grandfather in the Wattala case referred to above is alleged to
have committed an offence punishable under this section. There are many
grave child abuse cases filed under this section pending in courts.
No doubt the above punishments are very heavy, just short of death
sentence. It is trite law that ignorance of the law is no excuse. A
wrongdoer cannot get away by saying that he did not know the law or the
gravity of the sentence.
On the other hand had he known what the law is all about no sane
person even though he may be a potential rapist would opt to take the
risk of facing the dire consequences. Therefore, awareness programs
islandwide need to be organised immediately.
The entire community must be made aware of what these crimes are and
the severe punishments that are in the offing to catch the perpetrators
of sexual abuse of children.
The villagers, the slum dwellers and those living in the coolie
lines, city dwellers must be told about the gravity of it. We need to be
positive if we are to get rid of the potential crime doer living in the
community unseen and unnoticed.
To be continued