R’pura Children’s home closed amidst charges of sexual abuse, exploitation



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Provincial Minister Karunapala says children had to cross a waterway to collect leaves for goats.


by Shamindra Ferdinando


For want of effective monitoring by the government and Provincial Councils, some childcare centres are allegedly run like free labour camps.


Although both government and provincial authorities have received numerous complaints over the years regarding irregularities and serious shortcomings, childcare authorities are yet to work out a cohesive action plan to tackle the situation.


Childcare Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council G. M. Karunapala on Wednesday (August 4) revealed that during a recent raid on a childcare centre situated in the Ratnapura District, he had met six children, who had been cutting leaves for goats. An irate Karunapala said: "What they were doing was dangerous. The children had to cross a waterway to collect leaves and then come back. That cannot be condoned."


Minister Karunapala said that those in charge of the centre had received substantial amounts of money from both foreign and local sources, though the children did not receive any tangible benefits. Minister Karunapala ordered the closure of the centre and shifted the children to two other centres in the Ratnapura District.


 


 


According to him, the closed centre had been run by a Buddhist monk. Addressing the Ratnapura-based media at his ministry in Ratnapura, he alleged that the SPC had acted in the best interests of children.


Assistant Secretary Sunil Leelananda Perera (Information) of the SPC told The Island that they had received instructions from Chief Minister Maheepala Herath to take all possible measures to protect children accommodated at various children’s homes.


Of the 16 children’s homes in the Sabaragamuwa Province, comprising the Ratnapura and Kegalle districts, the government operated only one. According to Leelananda there were 550 children under 18 years put up at these homes.


Minister Karunapala said that tough action was needed to curb child abuse but nothing could be as bad as allowing abuses at children’s homes.


Commissioner of Probation and Childcare Dilini Dharmadasa said that an investigation had been launched following allegations that children accommodated at the recently closed children’s home had been sexually abused. Probation and Childcare Secretary D. M. Malini also addressed the media.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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