The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) along with the SLMA Women’s Health Committee urges the authorities to enforce the law against all those who were involved in the rape and exploitation of a 15-year old girl via websites, irrespective of their rank or position.
It is reported that a total of 34 suspects have been arrested over the sale of the 15-year-old girl including a former Maldivian State Minister, a doctor attached to the Navy, the victim’s mother, another woman, the person who prepared the advertisement, a three-wheeler driver, a car driver, a hotel manager, and 17 suspects who purchased the girl online including the Mihintale Pradeshiya Sabha Deputy Chairman, a leading gem businessman, a monk, a ship captain, and crew members, among others.
The first arrest which led to the uncovering of the plight of the girl was of a man in Mount Lavinia on 7th of June over suspicion of having sold the girl via a website. The man was charged with sexually assaulting the girl over the Internet and was remanded after being produced before the Moratuwa Magistrate’s Court. The Police has said that the girl had been sold to various people for Rs. 10,000, Rs. 15,000, and Rs. 30,000 each for about three months.
The SLMA Expert Committee on Women’s Health Chairperson and the members stated that the shortcomings in the implementation of Sri Lanka’s child protection laws must be rectified. Those who have been found guilty should be given maximum punishment irrespective of their status under the available legal framework. “It is the paramount duty of any country to protect its defenseless children. The existing laws in Sri Lanka are adequate to ensure such protection and there is no lacuna in the law.
However, there are shortcomings in the implementation of these laws”. As per Article 360 of the Penal Code, anyone who engages in child abuse can be either imprisoned for more than 10 years or fined, or both. The Penal Code as amended, the Obscene Publications Ordinance as amended, the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act as amended, the Children and Young Persons Ordinance as amended, and the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Law as amended are a part of
Sri Lanka’s domestic legal framework for the protection of children. Having sexual relations with a child below 16 years of age, with or without consent, constitutes statutory rape. The procreation and trafficking of persons are offenses as per provisions of the Penal Code amendments in 1995 and 2006.
SLMA wishes the parents of minors to be familiar with the law and not to be hesitant to take legal action against all those who indulge into this sort of behavior harassing innocent children of the nation. The law enforcement officers should be more vigilant on these issues and act more effectively. Both boys and girls should be empowered with access to comprehensive sexual responsibility and relationship education thereby minimize the risk of sexual violence and abuse.
The SLMA, led by its President Dr. Padma Gunaratne, a leading female professional, has been the national umbrella body that brings together all medical professionals across the country from 1887 and remains the focal point of promoting the interests of the medical profession.