Women, Children Chief Victims of Economic Meltdown | Daily News

Women, Children Chief Victims of Economic Meltdown

State Minister of Women and Child Affairs Geetha Kumarasinghe
State Minister of Women and Child Affairs Geetha Kumarasinghe


Q: Triposha is considered as the only high nutrient which is freely available for young children and pregnant mothers. Fabricated news or not, now mothers hesitate to give Thriposha to their children during an era in which malnutrition is escalating in children.

A: I am deeply distressed to hear such a story. However I cannot take any action regarding this because this subject does not fall under my ministry. Triposha is distributed by the Health Ministry so it is best that they investigate it and comment on the matter.

Q: You recently stated that the levy imposed on sanitary products will be reduced. Please elaborate.

A: Two days after I took up my ministerial post, I got to know that a lot of children face discomfort because the price of sanitary products has increased. I informed the President about this issue and he instructed the Treasury to reduce the tax imposed on export items. However, a gazette notification should be done about this first.

We also held several talks with local manufacturers of sanitary napkins and other essentials. We questioned them on what is the lowest price that they are willing to sell their products. If their items are good quality and they give a fair price, there is no need to import items. We will promote such items in the market.

Q: Domestic violence and violence on girl children have been an ongoing issue in Sri Lanka for many decades. How do you hope to tackle this problem?

A: Women in Sri Lanka suffer both mentally and physically due to domestic violence. Child molestation is also ascending. I recently came across a news item in which a mother had pushed her teenage daughter to engage in prostitution. I instructed a female officer in the region to look into this matter and report to me.

A lot if children are being sexually abused in recent times. There was an incident about a tuition master engaged in such acts recently. People do not reveal such incidents because court cases drag on for years without any solutions. Therefore, they tend to bear up the humiliation and pressure by themselves without going into courts. There needs to be a system in which such cases are taken up immediately and concluded immediately. Otherwise what is happening at the moment is that the case is sent to various courts. The victim is made to feel more uncomfortable and harassed. Finally at the end the victim is unable to marry even because the case keeps postponing. Therefore, most victims and their families tend to stay silent because they believe that if they address these cases they will have to face a lot of public humiliation, spend bucks and waste time at courts.

The first thing that should change is the mind-set of the people. They should look at a woman with respect. However, what is happening today is that society is doing its best to bring down women both mentally as well as physically. If a person cannot bear the accusations then what is done is abusing the victim verbally. You do not need to look far to get examples as it is the same situation at Parliament. Jokes and insults are targeted at female MPs at most times, so we have to bite the bullet in most cases.

Believe it or not, though this is the situation in all the sectors in the country, it was an entirely different story in cinema. They treated the main actress with utmost respect. I am not sure if this behaviour is because if the female lead in a film leaves in the middle of a project, then the whole production collapses. We too respect the directors because they provide us with an income to live on and advise us on how to handle our characters.

Parents need to teach their children about the ways of the world. They have the right to protect their children as a mother and as a father. It is significant that in most cases the children have been molested by close relatives. That’s why we do not allow mothers with children below five years to go abroad for work.

Q: Many children have become addicted to technology because they were given access to phones and computers for online learning. Such problems have resulted in untimely deaths too. What do you hope to do to combat this issue?

A: We need to be especially cautious when we let a child have access to mobile phones. They should remove any unnecessary Apps or block any items which will mislead the students. One cannot prevent students from using the latest technology as it is now a part of their education. However, it is up to the parents to decide on what to give and what should not be given to them. 

Add new comment