ESCAPE was founded in September 1995 with the goal of Eradicating Sexual Child Abuse, Prostitution and Exploitation.
Today, almost 22 years later, it still remains one of the few organizations wholly dedicated to working with and for children who have been traumatized through experiences of sexual abuse and exploitation.
Child Sexual Abuse and the forms it is being perpetrated in, is highly symptomatic of a diseased and disintegrating social fabric, the world over. It has been only over the past two decades or so, that the issue has been divested of the shrouds of secrecy and taboo it had enjoyed before, inadvertently encouraging and abetting the high prevalence of so abominable a crime. Here in Sri Lanka, the statistics that are coming to light now are disquieting, to say the least. Conservative estimates say that approximately 100 children are sexually exploited or abused in a single day!.In Colombo alone, it is estimated that 1 in every 3 children lives in a violent and abusive home.
Sri Lanka has also earned herself the iniquitous fame of being the principal source of child pornography for the market in the United States and Europe.
And the ‘Beach Boys’ of Sri Lanka have earned a reputation singularly their own – there are an estimated 30,000 boy prostitutes operating in the country, most of them in the age group of 6-14 years, while the number of them being trafficked to paedophiles by organized crime groups continues to grow by the day.
In such a scenario, the efforts that ESCAPE is making to provide therapy for abused and traumatized children and their families, and awareness and training to equip society to prevent further occurrence of Child Sexual Abuse, becomes important and poignant.
ESCAPE has believed in approaching and dealing with the problem of Sexual Child Abuse in four different ways – by providing Care for Survivors – which includes Therapy to help victims to deal with their experiences, Family support to enable the families of survivors to handle the fall-out due to the abuse, and Legal Assistance to the victims who seek justice and redress through the legal system.
We have also tried to provide further rehabilitation for specially selected children, through ‘Kedella’ ,a short-stay, Government registered residential therapeutic centre, for survivors. We also work towards preventing the occurrence of further abuse through Training and Awareness programmes for various groups of persons, including children, and those who work closely with children. We have also tried to bring the services of ESCAPE closer to more children and their families through the Badulla Regional Centre, outside the main centre, which provide a miniature version of the services to those who need them.