Preventive programmes to be carried out in danger zones
By Pamodi WaravitaThe State Ministry of Women and Child Development, Preschools and Primary Education, School Infrastructure, and Education Services will be analysing the trends in reporting child abuse cases in the country to identify geographical areas that are hotspots for child abuse, so that preventive measures can be implemented in these areas.This comes following the death of a 16-year-old girl from the Nuwara Eliya District while being employed as a domestic worker at MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence in Colombo, as well as the online exploitation of a 15-year old girl, over the past few weeks. At a meeting held at the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat, State Minister of Women and Child Development, Preschools and Primary Education, School Infrastructure, and Education Services Piyal Nishantha de Silva, along with the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), stated that technology needs to be utilised to identify high-risk areas for child abuse, so that necessary programmes can be enacted in those areas. Commenting on the case of the 16-year-old girl who died of burn injuries while working at MP Bathiudeen’s residence, de Silva said that special attention needs to be given to children from the estate sector, as they face a unique set of problems. “The Ministry will also take steps to ensure that domestic workers have to be registered with the authorities for their protection and welfare,” added De Silva.De Silva had met the girl’s parents and family at the meeting, where he had stated that a house would be donated to the family, while promising that the investigations into her death would be conducted thoroughly.The girl, who had been admitted to Ward 72 of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) on 3 July with burn injuries, had died on 15 July while receiving treatment, the Borella Police said. The Police have stated that investigations have revealed that the girl was brought to the house in October 2020, when she was 15 years and 11 months old.The parents of the girl have been issued notice to appear before the Chief Magistrate Court on 28 Wednesday, as part of the ongoing inquest into her death.They have also raised their suspicions about the nature of her death, stressing that they do not believe that it was a suicide.On 16 July, the relevant Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), submitting the postmortem report of the deceased on 16 July, informed Additional Magistrate Jayasuriya that the victim had been seriously sexually abused for a long time. The Borella Police also informed the court on 16 July that they are investigating whether the girl was sexually abused after coming to Bathiudeen’s house, or whether it had taken place before her arrival there. The Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court on Saturday (24) granted permission to the Police to detain for 48 hours and interrogate four suspects, including the wife of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, who were arrested last Friday (23) over the girl’s death.Police Media Spokesman Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Ajith Rohana said that the Police had arrested imprisoned Opposition MP Bathiudeen; his wife, 46-year-old Sheyabdeen Ayesha; her father, 70-year-old Mohammed Sheyabdeen; and the broker that secured the girl’s employment, on Friday (23).The MP’s brother-in-law has also been arrested on suspicion over the alleged rape of another domestic worker in Bathiudeen’s household.