Together with Angelo Pereira of Little Theatre Group LEADS produced a drama on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse in the country. The drama went aboard on three days in Colombo, as part of an advocacy campaign 'A Girl today, A Woman tomorrow' aimed at reducing violence against children and also women.
Children are universally believed to be the epitome of innocence. Yet the reality that is not so readily acknowledge is, that this very 'innocence' has rendered them the victims of vulnerability. Recent statistics indicate an alarming increase in child abuse related complaints, those recieved from January to July 2016 being 6,548, while the year 2015 showed a total of 10,732 reported cases. Still many cases go unreported.
Most people think we need to warn children to be careful of certain places, but we fail to warn them of the expected safe places, which is unfortunately where abuse also happens. The fact is that abuse is not just a 'stranger danger'. Sadly, Child Sexual Abuse is prevalent in the very places one would think the child is safest. In the home, in the neighbourhood, in schools and even in places of worship. Most of the time the perpetrators are known persons. Someone with easy access and trust: ironically , which in most instances, is why an adult to whom an incident is reported struggles to believe the story.
We have to face the reality that this is an issue in our society and needs to be openly addressed. In order to address the dire need to advocate against gender based violence, it is time we showed solidarity for such vulnerable children on a wider platform, and worked together in making Sri Lanka safe for both women and children.
Little Theatre Group and its Director, Angelo Pereira has developed the drama - 'ESCAPE' based on six true stories of survivors of child sexual abuse. The drama would also be interspered with monologues addressing aspects surrounding the issues: How do you help a child who is sexually abused? Can you make their experiences go away? Can you heal them somehow from their wounds? What is available in our system to support a survivor?
A survivor of Child Sexual Abuse spoke on the issues faced and the aspect of dignity. Kumudini David one of the monologists sommented in a FB message: " Everytime I watch the drama my memories get triggered and leave me in hot tears. But I stand up for the endeavour, till the end".
Hans Billimoria also a monologist at the event raised awareness on Cyber Mobbing a rising trend of 'black mailing' and 'bullying' over the Internet that is affecting Sri Lanka school children and youth. He urged parents, teachers and the authorities to wake up to the alarming realities of increase in usage of social media and mobile phones and the decrease in moral values among the younger generation.
Commenting on the event LEADS CEO Roshan Mendis said "The drama ESCAPE is an effort to bring the realies and complexities of the issue of Sexual Abuse to the fore and advocate for action among the key leadership from all sectors of our nation".
The drama was performed to a distinguished audience on 7th, 8th September at the Mihilaka Medura, B.M.I.C.H, and again on 15th September at the Suriya Village in Colombo.
LEADS stands out as a singular agency providing specilised residential thereapeutic and psycho-social care for survivors of Child Sexual Abuse along with legal guidance and family work.