[Stop-traffic] News/Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka urged to tackle child trafficking

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka urged to tackle child trafficking
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 10:05:57 EST


            FOCUS: Sri Lanka urged to tackle child trafficking

KY 03/Jan/01 2:00 AM

  The Associated Press.

    COLOMBO, Jan. 3 (Kyodo) -- By: Hilary Rajakarunanayake Trafficking and
abusing children is on the increase at an alarming pace in Sri Lanka and
experts urge the public sector to create coordinated actions to tackle the
problem.
    Most of the child trafficking in Sri Lanka takes place within the
country, and children who live with their parents are taken for physical
labor, Harendra de Silva, chairman of the National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA) reported recently.
    "These children are invariably prone to abuse of various forms," de
Silva said at the beginning of a program against child trafficking. The
International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Program for
Eradication of Child Labor (IPEC) launched the subregional program for Sri
Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
    "Children are taken for domestic labor from estate areas such as
Madawachchiya and Anuradhapura. They are taken to beaches of Hikkaduwa,
Negombo and other coastal areas, not merely to serve foreign pedophiles,
but also to serve the locals as well," he said.
    Child pornography is also a big issue in Sri Lanka, he pointed out.
    "A new form of sexual abuse targeting children has come up. Even though
children are not shown in pictures, literature includes children," de Silva
said, adding that promotes incest and seduction of children.
    The NCPA chairman went on to say the Police Department, court protection
and rehabilitation services should play a key role to combat child
trafficking.
    The latest statistics reveal there are more than 100,000 child vagrants
in Sri Lanka below the age of 16.
    Many work like slaves in tea kiosks, small restaurants and as domestic
servants under pathetic and unpleasant conditions.
    Some girls and boys are used by drug dealers and smugglers to transport
and sell drugs and contraband goods and some are used to beg on the
streets.
    Almost none of the children are able to go to school and children, both
male and female and as young as 11, are forced into brothels.
    Additionally, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam often use young
boys and girls as child soldiers.
    And the figures are increasing day by day.
    The government has passed legislation in parliament against employment
of children in any form, but the legislation is still quite ineffective
because of police bribery, corruption and the use of political clout and
influence to avoid prosecution.
    De Silva said awareness must be created within society not merely to say
"child labor is bad, but also to create an active awareness in preventing
it."
    Labor Minister Alavi Moulana, who was also at the launch of the program,
echoed de Silva on the necessity of creating an awareness in society,
particularly among women who travel to Middle Eastern countries in search
for employment.
    Women should realize the dangers of leaving their young children in the
care of others such as relatives or friends, the minister said, because
those children are prone to harassment and abuse.
    "Any form of child labor is traumatic for the child," and a wide range
of criminal offenses against the child," Moulana warned.
    Tine Staermose, chief technical adviser for the project, said the
program is set for two years.
    She said the project aims to contribute to the abolition of child
trafficking, which is "the worst form of child labor."
    The project will cover four areas.
    Research and documentation will collect information and undertake
assessment reports that will serve as the basis for finalizing various
program activities.
    The remaining two areas are institutional development and national
capacity building.
    "Direct ways of preventing, protecting and rehabilitating child victims
of trafficking and subregional cooperation and joint action, will also be
considered," Staermose said.
    The project will also advocate inter-country framework and cooperation,
which will include the promotion of subregional positions against
trafficking, she said.
    Staermose said the project will also include national communication
programs and promote networks and alliances against the trafficking of
children.
    "The obvious reality is that women and girls are the primary victims of
trafficking. It is the project's aim to ensure that the action programs
will find opportunities for young girls to improve their lives and their
prospects and have better control over issues that concern them," she
added.

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