(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is to initiate a social discourse calling for tougher laws to be adopted for a comprehensive framework to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, NCPA Chairman H.M. Abayaratne said yesterday.

Chairman Abayaratne said the final discussion over the national policy to prevent child abuse and to protect and treat victimised children which is being formulated by the NCPA will be held next Wednesday (19).

Responding to the Daily News, Abayaratne said the NCPA will initiate the said social discourse as a foundation to the new laws and much needed reforms with regards to child marriages and teenage pregnancies in the country.

“Accordingly, the social discourse is to demand legal rights for pregnant teenagers below 16, to decide upon keeping or ending their pregnancy,”Abayaratne said.

The Chairman also said that the NCPA will also call for a common law to be applied for teenage marriages below 16.

“The NCPA is to initiate the endevour soon,” he further said. Meanwhile, the NCPA Chairman also said that they are closing up to finalising the National Policy on Child Abuse and Protection. The NCPA commenced formulating the national policy at the beginning of this year.

A committee headed by the NCPA’s founding Chairman Professor Harendra de Silva heads the task.

Abayaratne also said the NCPA has already formulated a set of guidelines for Day Care Centers.

“Accordingly, teachers attached to these day care centers will also receive a training manual developed by the NCPA,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile,our Kurunegala Correspondent S.M. Wijayaratne reports that the NCPA, since 2011, has received 500,000 phone complaints of physical and mental child harassment through its Hot Line 1929.

The NCPA Chairman has pointed out that 64,000 written complaints were received during the same time frame.

According to Abyaratne, majority of these complaints have been received from Colombo, Kurunegala, Gampaha and Kaluthara administrative districts.

Abayratne also said the NCPA has recruited 116 new Regional Childcare Officers to meet the shortage of officers in the establishment. The NCPA Chairman also said that an islandwide programme under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena was recently launched to curb child abuse in the country.

Meanwhile, Parliament is to take up the Child Rehabilitation Center (Incorporation) Bill and the International Women’s and Children’s Rights (Incorporation) Bill for the Second Reading on Tuesday (18).

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