Every day, children in all parts of the country are molested, raped, abused, and killed. Who is responsible? We all are, as parents, teachers, prominent personalities, journalists, politicians, religious figures, men and women of this country; we are all responsible, including and especially those of us who have decided to be silent observers of such horrible incidences.
Child survivors of sexual abuse is rarely discussed in public in Sri Lanka. Awareness on child sexual abuse is confined to the Women Bureau of the police, a few psychiatrists and doctors in hospitals and child care workers. Children are most vulnerable as they come under the care of parents and guardians, and are dependent on them for almost everything.
Sing Gloria is choral music concert that was organized by Pianist and Conductor Joshua Asokan (20). He was joined by around 30 singers at the St Paul’s Church on Kynsey road in Colombo. The choristers felt they were lending their voices to a cause that is not widely known in the country and were hopeful of breaking the silence.
The event aimed at raising awareness on child sexual abuse and was also focused on the necessity to support the victims. The proceeds of the fundraiser goes to two non-profits – the Emerge Foundation and LEADS, who supports child survivors of sexual abuse.
According to recent studies done by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) in January 2016 over one lakh cases of child abuse were reported during 2015. Of these 735 were on sexual harassment and 433 cases of rape, with 365 cases on grave sexual abuse. Alarmingly, this is thought to be just the tip of the iceberg as many cases go unreported due to the reluctance to report. The situation is worsened by the stigma attached to such incidences and the long and arduous process once the case is taken up by the courts. During the process young children who were abused sexually are separated from their families and remain in state facilities. The education and counselling standards at these facilities are often not what other children enjoy. Organizations such as LEADS and Emerge have partnered with the government to ease the burden on the system and to provide the opportunity of a brighter future for victimized children.
LEADS is perhaps the only organization that maintains a residential therapeutic center for survivors of child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka. The center located in Colombo offers counselling and therapy services to children who are received from all parts of the country. These service will be soon extended to the Northern region where already the child care officers have begun child protection work.
Let’s raise our voices to be heard, in one big and loud NO to child abuse. Let us spread the word to our neighbours, friends, and families. Let us help put the blame back to where it belongs, not on the victim or his/her family but on the perpetrators. Let’s make sure that we spread the word and stop the indifference. We owe it to each and every child we brought into this world.