After becoming a pathfinding country, the government of Sri Lanka launched its National Partnership to End Violence Against Children in 2017, which unites government agencies, UNICEF, civil society, faith-based groups, academia, the private sector, international organizations and other partners. The 2018-2022 action plan was drafted following a comprehensive consultative process involving multiple stakeholders, including representatives from the government of Sri Lanka, the United Nations, national and international non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, development partners, and the private sector.
The Ministry has also revived the National Monitoring Committee for the Rights of the Child, a multi-stakeholder coordination group originally created following the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the highest authority to make collaborative decisions for the realization of children’s rights. Along with six members appointed by the President of Sri Lanka, the Committee is comprised of secretaries or heads of departments from 17 ministries and government agencies with a child rights mandate.
The National Plan of Action calls for the development and implementation of a detailed monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track, monitor and evaluate programs addressing violence against children. Currently, there is a lack of up-to-date and disaggregated data on the prevalence, trends, and drivers of violence, particularly at the regional level.
In 2016, the Department of Census and Statistics conducted a Demographic and Health Survey at the request of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, which included indicators on domestic violence. Also in 2016, the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs established the National Child Rights Monitoring Mechanism, connecting 57 government institutions that work on children’s issues.
The 2017 Country Discussion Paper and the 2017 road map document both found that corporal punishment is common. The National Child Protection Authority has found that 80 percent of school-children have experienced at least one form of corporal punishment within the last school term.
The National Plan of Action focuses on prevention and early intervention as a strategy in addressing violence against children while supporting data collection, research, analysis and reporting of incidents of violence to ensure evidence-based interventions. Interventions draw upon several of the INSPIRE strategies, including:
(a) legislation, training of law enforcement, coordination and collaboration between different stakeholders, and strengthening reporting mechanisms;
(b) learning modules, training programs, and public awareness and media campaigns;
(c) awareness-raising and information dissemination among parents;
(d) access to services and provision of psychosocial support; and
(e) life skills training programs.
The implementation of the plan is divided into short-term (up to one year), medium-term (up to three years) and long-term (up to five years) actions. The plan identifies three specific priority issues, including physical and humiliating punishment, sexual abuse and exploitation, and online safety of children.
A group of civil society organizations and United Nations agencies established a working group in 2016 to partner with the government in its attempts to end violence against children. This grew to become the National Partnership to End Violence against Children, which was launched in June of 2017. Additionally, local civil society organizations regularly come together in the National Coordinating and Action Group, where they advocate for the government to implement its pathfinding commitments.
Sri Lanka expressed its commitment to prohibiting all corporal punishment of children, including in the home, at the July 2006 meeting of the South Asia Forum, following the 2005 regional consultation of the UN Study on Violence against Children. This commitment was reiterated during the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka in 2017, during which Sri Lanka clearly accepted a recommendation to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings.