Children are urging all 225 Members of Parliament to include child protection at the heart of their political agendas
The child protection crisis is deepening in Sri Lanka, with an unprecedented rise in child murders; from July
Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SCC) together with Child Protection Alliance (CPA) will recommence the ‘Lama Surakum Yathra’ (Child Protection Tour) in celebration of Children’s Day to spread love to the people and children of the Northern Province. The intensive public awareness campaign will begin in Colombo Fort and will reach Jaffna on 1st October, Kandy on 15th October, Batticaloa on 29th October and Anuradhapura on 12th November.
The grand finale of Yathra is scheduled, for the 18th November 2022, with a walk in support of #NOguti and Sri Lanka’s first Children’s Convention on 18th November to celebrate Universal Children’s Day at the Open Air Theatre at Vihara Maha Devi Park, Colombo.
Speaking about the initiative, the Founder Chairperson of SCC, Dr Tush Wickramanayaka, said, “Although many protested on the streets insisting upon a better country for our children, they were silent about raising better, unwounded children for our country. Yathra is a journey of love to protect and promote children’s rights. In every key city, there will be a day of activities for children, focused on empowering them as rights holders and equal citizens, distributing essential educational material and sanitary pads for children with economic hardships and feeding the hungry via a community kitchen.”
The #NOhit zone school program launched in February 2022 was interrupted by the Aragalaya. “The violent oppression perpetrated by the Authorities is a poignant reminder that ending corporal punishment against children is a pressing need towards the dawn of a new era without violence and establish the just and peaceful country we envisage. We hope to introduce a beacon school in every province we visit on Yathra that promotes Happier and Safer Education”, expressed Dr Wickramanayaka. “A study on school disciplinary methods conducted by National Child Protection Authority in 2017 revealed that 80% of students reported having experienced corporal punishment in the past term. Cases of cruelty reported to NCPA have tripled in the past decade. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka passed a historic verdict in February 2021 banning corporal punishment of children unequivocally, and it is critically urgent that the Government of Sri Lanka implements these directives to protect our children”, said Pof Prathiba Mahanamahewa, Former Commissioner of Human Rights Commission of SL and former Dean Law and Professor, University of Technology Jamaica.
Saranga Disasekara, Actor and Child Protection Ambassador said, “Our schools are supposed to be a safe space where children and educators can adopt pro-social behaviours that can prevent iolence within the school and in the community. However, if teachers and primary education providers are not aware of alternative punishment methods, the problem will remain and generation upon generation will be conditioned to normalize this heinous crime. I am happy to be part of the SCC’s #NOguti campaign that aims to change this behaviour.” Retd Senior DIG Priyantha Jayakody, speaking on the police’s reaction to child abuse said, “Most of the police officers are not concerned about the privacy of either victim or suspect. It is the responsibility of the police and the media to ensure that the correct approach is used when it comes to the basic rights of citizens irrespective of their involvement, specially to ensure that a child’s rights are always safeguarded. Therefore, I believe it is essential that long-term programs are created and implemented where we educate both the police and media on a strong code of ethics in this area.”
Niranjani Shanmugarajah, Actor and Child Protection Ambassador, speaking at the event said, “A child without love and support will never grow up with the attitude of caring for others or giving love to others. Let’s give love and nurture, let’s change the child’s world with love.”
The indefatigable efforts of SCC in ending violence against children have paved the path at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions to represent 5.2 million children in Geneva as the only Civil Society Organization committed to child rights. Child Protection is a collective social responsibility and SCC will continue its collaborative efforts to raise public awareness, training and advocacy. Those interested in getting involved in the cause can visit the website at www.stopchildcruelty.com and the Facebook page at ww.facebook.com/stopchildcruelty or email firstname.lastname@example.org.