SLMA President, Dr. Padma Gunaratne and the Chairperson of the SLMA Women’s Committee Prof. Sampatha Gunawardena said that the shortcomings in the implementation of child protection laws must be rectified. Those who are found guilty should be given the. maximum punishment irrespective of their status under the legal framework. “It is the paramount duty of any country to protect its defenceless children. The laws in Sri Lanka are adequate to ensure such protection and there is no lacuna in the law.
According to Dr. Gunaratne and Prof. Gunawardena, 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 over 10 years or fined or both. The Penal Code, the Obscene Publications Ordinance, the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, the Children and Young Persons Ordinance and the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Law are a part of Sri Lanka’s domestic legal framework for the protection of children.
Having sexual relations with a child below 16, with or without consent, constitutes statutory rape. The procuring and trafficking of persons are offences, they said.
The SLMA hopes that the parents of minors would be familiar with the law and not to be hesitant to take legal action against all those who indulge in this sort of behaviour, harassing innocent children. The law enforcement officers should be more vigilant on these issues and act more effectively. Boys and girls should be empowered with comprehensive sexual responsibility and relationship education thereby minimising the risk of sexual violence and abuse, they said.
The SLMA is the national umbrella body that brings together all medical professionals across the country since 1887, and remains the focal point of promoting the interests of the medical profession.