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UNICEF launches 3 powerful films calling on all Lankans to protect children


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Marking Sri Lanka’s Children’s Day which fell on 1 October, UNICEF has released a set of three, powerful five-minute films that call on all Sri Lankans to urgently prevent and protect children and young people from all forms of violence including sexual and physical abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The hard-hitting films, developed by UNICEF in collaboration with the NGOs Leads and Voice, each focus on an individual real-life story of a young person who has experienced a form of violence, and shows the devastating impact on their lives including ‘Nishi’* who at the age of 14 experienced sexual abuse, ‘Vijay’* who suffered regular and severe physical beatings at school which left him with physical injuries that forced him to drop out, and ‘Mala’* who was neglected by her parents, and placed in a children’s home at the age of 2 months. 

Each film closes with the message ‘ending abuse, neglect and exploitation against children is everyone’s responsibility’ and provides clear guidance for individuals to take including listening to children, providing them with love and care, and reporting any suspicions of violence to the national Child Line on 1929.

“Whilst they may be shocking, the experiences of the young people featured in our new hard-hitting films are all too common in Sri Lanka. We must change this. Not only is violence against children morally wrong, the scientific evidence shows that it permanently damages the developing brain of a child. This lifelong damage is catastrophic not just for each young person but for our whole society,” said Tim Sutton, UNICEF Representative, Sri Lanka, adding, “To truly end violence against children in Sri Lanka, everybody – individuals, businesses, and community leaders included – must take responsibility and play their part. Our films are designed to educate about what violence is, and to provide clear actions that we as individuals must take to protect children. I urge everyone to watch and share with friends and family.”

Violence affects millions of children around the world, including thousands in Sri Lanka, who experience it in their homes, schools, online and in their communities. In 2016 Sri Lanka’s National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) received over 9,000 reports of violent incidences against children, yet with many cases unreported, the true figure is likely to be far higher. The vast majority are carried out by people that are known directly to the victim. The effects of violence can scar children both physically and mentally and its impact can last a lifetime, hampering their ability to reach their full potential. Violence impacts children from every community irrespective of wealth, education or background. 

In 2016 the Government of Sri Lanka signed up to The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, as one of 12 path finding countries, committing to ending all forms of violence against children by 2030. Led by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs (MoWCA), and with the support of UNICEF and many NGO’s and civil society groups, in June 2017 Sri Lanka launched the National Partnership to End Violence against Children. Adding to the multiple actions already undertaken by the Government, this Children’s Day, the MoWCA are launching a National Roadmap which lists key actions planned to achieve this bold goal.

UNICEF is urging people to share the new film on social media platforms. Watch them on Channel 1 MTV, Sirasa TV, Shakthi TV on the Sunday 1st October, or visit www.unicef.lk/endviolence to view all films in English, Sinhala and Tamil. 

*names changed to protect identity


President Maithripala Sirisena officiates at the national celebrations of World Children’s Day yesterday at the BMICH


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