Letters to the Editor

19th January, 1997


Child abuse: a growing social problem

We have been generally aware of the incidence of child sex abuse - mostly of the homosexual kind - in the tourist beach resort areas, which has come to stay as an almost entrenched stream of misconduct for the past so many years.

The recent revelations of child sex abuse connected with certain orphanages and child care centres managed by some non-governmental charitable organizations pin-point the fact that these shockingly disgusting sex abuses seem to be proliferating to alarming proportions in other child refugee centres too, around the country.

Exposures of such misconduct, aided and abetted by the very staff entrusted with the care and sustenance of forlorn destitute children, highlighted in the print media during the last year alone have caused islandwide concern and perturbation. These shameless and beastly type of activities call for immediate and firm deterrent remedial action with a view to crushing and eliminating them for ever in this so-called religiously guided country of ours where a humanely nurtured societal order is said to be in existence. It is mostly money that is the root of all evil but the magnitude of resultant social evils in the past was not that high as at present and had been in a manageable proportion with possibilities of reformation. Such evils were few and far apart in that economy-controlled social order.

With the open economy and free-market exploitation gaining ground and extending their tentacles to every section of society - both the well to do and the poverty stricken - directed their attention and desire to acquire unlimited money and wealth to satisfy their diverse needs and physical comforts in the case of the ordinary people and to wallow in luxury and pursue added physical thrills and carnal pleasures in the case of the well to do. With the intent to keep up with the Joneses or ride over them almost all of our people have become confused in their priorities and begun to run amok in their greed to achieve untold unwanted heights of lifestyles.

Laxity in morals leading to the search for novel thrills and prohibited sex experiences and adventurous aberrations had upsurged to uncontrollable proportions as a direct consequence of the globally spreading sex trade in pornographic magazines, books and blue films produced and exhibited to cater for the thrill seekers of the common or garden variety and for the jaded wealthy and insatiable jet set runners in all strata of society.

However, it will not be impossible to keep the illicit manipulations of the vicious circles under control at least to some semblance of decency and humaneness in our social order if those who are vested with the authority of maintaining law and order perform their duties efficiently and conscientiously. Those who run the administration should exercise unceasing control, enquiry, supervision and constant checks and maintain discipline in all ranks with a view to closing loop holes and avoiding not only sex exploitation but all other destructive and inhuman activities in all fields of our society.

What is called for in the present circumstances is strong deterrent punitive action by accelerated law enforcement. The state and government high command should keep their erring politicians also under check and control or get rid of them if they are not amenable to admonition and discipline without allowing them to cause irreparable harm and damage not only to the community and the country but also to their political party hierarchy. It has been revealed in most cases that the law enforcement authorities are unable to maintain law and order and bring to book the concerned offenders due largely to the interference and intimidation by politicians of the party in power.

The saddest feature of all these sordid episodes is that our own people - both men and women who function as the trustees, caretakers and matrons of child care homes and such other institutions, lured by the filthy lucre act as brokers or agents in this despicable business of providing innocent helpless children to some of those foreigners - the so called do gooders - who masquerade as donors and dispensers of charity to orphanages. Some of them are in reality insatiable exotic thrill seekers. Most of these jaded and unsatisfied rich men and women who have nothing else or worthwhile to do in their home countries drift to those parts in search of new pastures and stimulating adventures and prevait upon those who run our impoverished orphanages to accept them as godfathers by offering their largesse in the form of financial and material support.

This fact has been revealed by recent exposures in the media, in the cases of some refugee centres at Sigiriya, Madatugama and some coastal town areas. It must, however be stressed that it is not all of our generous foreign visitors who misbehave in this manner. It is only a few unscrupulous of them who engage in such nefarious activities.

Our probation and child care services officials should be directed to pay greater attention to the supervision of these child care homes, particularly some of those run by private and religious organizations by making regular visits and carefully examining the norms and modes employed in the conduct of these institutions and ensure the closure of all loop holes against irregularities such as earning a fast buck by the caretakers and attendants in the misuse of not only materials and funds but also the physical entities of those helpless children housed in the refugee homes.

If the officials and functionaries in all our departments are able to carry on their duties conscientiously without let or hindrance most of our problems could be fairly satisfactorily solved, and the betterment of the depressed and the deprived in every field could be assured. The state/government administrators should ensure that the legislations enacted for the welfare and protection of the people at large are correctly and effectively implemented as an insurance against the manifold social evils and injustices in our country.

As editorially pointed out and clearly amplified by practically all of our national newspapers what is urgently required to prevent any future sexual exploitation of helpless children is effective implementation of the enacted rules and regulations and dedicated service by the concerned officials.

Ceaseless vigilance and supportive co-operation from well meaning civic minded people is also a necessity for the success of all preventive campaigns in this context.

R.M.A.B. Dassanayake


CEB: Shock after shock

Under the rehabilitation scheme of the electricity supply within the Kandy Municipal limits, the Ceylon Electricity Board has allocated millions of rupees.

In this process, the C.E.B. has started to replace all the present meters with new ones. I do not see any valid reasons for this exercise, as more than 90% of these are not defective and function well. Among them there are meters which are fairly old, but perform better than the new meters, without any fault.

If so, why the C.E.B took a decision to replace these meters, which needs a colossal amount of foreign exchange to import them. It may be true that the C.E.B got a grant from an international agency for this rehabilitation scheme; but the funds must be utilised for better use for the benefit of the consumers, without wasting in this manner.

When inquiring on this wastage, I was shocked to hear the present employees who are engaged in the meter-reading duty were finding it difficult to read them as they indicate the number of watts consumed in clock-wise system. I am reminded that how former employees of the KMC read the same meters, as most of them were less educated than the present generation, without any fuss. This reasoning is highly unacceptable, unethical, unreasonable etc. and should be totally rejected.

Is something going under the carpet for the benefit of some interested parties? It is the sole responsibility of the C.E.B. officials to give a valid reason that caused to take a decision to replace the meters. If not, it will certainly affect the so-called transparency and the accountability of the P.A. government.

Asoka Samaranayake


Media and Cricket Board Officialdom

Much has been written recently about the malad-ministration of the game of cricket in Sri Lanka. This has been attributed to the election of incompetent individuals to hold office in the Cricket Board who lack cricketing credentials. Many an official who have not wielded the willow even at school level have exploited the loophole in the Cricket Board's Constitution, i.e., its failure to specify the qualifications of office holders, to get themselves elected.

While the Executive Committee of the Board has reportedly made some welcome moves toward clarifying the eligibility rules of candidates nominated for office recently, the media itself could play a positive role in the conduct of the Cricket Board's future elections.

In fairness to the cricket-loving public of this country, it should be the duty of the media to conduct more investigative journalism about the office holders, their cricketing credentials, their qualifications vis-a-vis the Sports Laws of the country and the Board's Constitution, etc. If the media can provide the public detailed pen portraits and statistics of cricketers, it should also be able to gather information about those who guide the destinies of the national sport of our country.

It is a sad situation that the public knows very little about the cricket administrators or their election platforms that got them elected. This would also enlighten the clubs and member cricket associations which elect the Board's office bearers.

Thus, in fairness to the cricket-loving public, even if the Cricket Board fails in its attempts to have eligibility rules for officials in place before the upcoming annual elections, media exposure of unsuitable candidates could thwart their election.

M.P. Abeysekera,

Colombo 3.

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