Home / FT View/ Protecting the girl child

Protecting the girl child

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 11 October 2017 00:00

In comparison to some of our neighbouring countries, the majority of women in Sri Lanka may have it slightly better in terms of basic social economic indicators. In terms of parity of education right up to university and access to healthcare and employment opportunities, Sri Lankan girls enjoy better conditions than their counterparts in other parts of south Asia – although, admittedly, that says very little.

There are around 600 million girls aged 10-19 in the world, however, they run the risk of disappearing from public awareness and falling outside the international development agenda. Inequities in secondary education, issues of protection, sexual abuse, forced marriages and a lack of opportunity are just some of the issues that impact the adolescent girl.

Today marks the International Day of the Girl Child and given that this year’s theme is ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl’, we Sri Lankans should take this opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves. Over 20,000 teenage girls are married and often have children before they reach the age of 18 years and that marks a significant problem that policymakers in this country have had to address.

Last year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) presented a joint letter, signed by over 50 UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, leading medical practitioners, academics and partners, highlighting the issues of child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Sri Lanka. It called on the Government to continue its actions to address this issue and highlighted some areas of progress. Activists believe that with continued action by the Government, and with the support of the United Nations, their partners and civil society here in Sri Lanka, the country can achieve a key objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to “eliminate all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage”, and ultimately create a Sri Lanka where all girls can have a childhood free from discrimination and violence, and a future of opportunity and choice.

Investing in girls is a moral imperative – a matter of basic justice and equality. It is an obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is also critical for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, advancing economic growth and building peaceful, cohesive societies.

The abuse of girls has also been a constant issue in Sri Lanka and the appearance of these incidents in the newspapers has ceased to shock people.

On average four children, mostly girls, are abused in Sri Lanka every day. Such damning numbers are the main reason why the Government needs to move beyond making empty promises and implementing sustainable social policies that actively minimise and punish child offences. The legal processes in most of these cases are inefficient and completely insensitive towards the victims and their families.

Clearly there is a need to take a holistic approach by fast-tracking the Police and legal process as well as increasing awareness and ensuring that children are educated against the menace around them. The fact that most abuses are committed by adults close to the family is an indication of how high the level of vigilance should be. Moving forward, we as Sri Lankans must look inward and strive to create a society that affords all its members the same dignity, freedom, and opportunity. Investing in the wellbeing and prosperity of the girl child will no doubt have a positive ripple effect on both our society and economy and it is up to us to seek the necessary change.

Share This Article


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit

Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi

The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation

Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc

Columnists More