Tuesday, February 9, 1999 Published at 18:34 GMT
World: South Asia
'100 kids abused daily' in Sri Lanka
Boys are lured away from rural areas
By Colombo Correspondent Susannah Price
The first scientific study on the scale of child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka has concluded that 100 young people are sexually exploited or abused every day on the island.
The draft report prepared by a local organisation called Protecting Children and Environment Everywhere found that while foreign paedophiles came to Sri Lanka to have sex with young boys, it was girls who suffered most from abuse within the community.
The scale of the abuse has never been widely investigated. The researchers into this first draft study on sexually exploited and abused children concluded there were between 10,000-15,000 boys involved in the sex trade, not only in beach areas but also in the hill country and near other tourst sites.
They found the boys were mostly aged between eight and 15 and while most of them came from fishing hamlets and coastal villages, about a third were lured from the inland rural areas by promises of work.
The study said most foreigh paedophiles came from western Europe but pointed out the involvement of local agents and pimps.
The authors also highlighted the plight of what they termed the bonded children, aged from five upwards who are kept virtual prisoner in houses run by international rings and who are used to prostitution and pornography.
In addition, the report looked at sexual abuse within the family or community and interviewed 100 victims, nearly all of them girls.
They found that many of them had one parent, usually the mother who was working abroad, and the victims were easy prey because they were unsupervised.
The report found there was almost no rehabilitation or counselling available for victims who are often stigmatised by society.
Currently, sexually abused children are sent to remand or detention homes where offenders and victims live side-by-side.
One activist warned that without help, the victims often ended up as criminals, drug addicts or abusers themselves.
The government and concerned agencies need to act urgently to help he said, otherwise the cycle will simply continue.