Although a ceasefire between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil Tigers was reached in early 2002, ethnic tensions continue. The country now needs to face the challenges relating to the rehabilitation of the displaced population and the rehabilitation processes to reintegrate former child soldiers.

Sri Lanka still suffers from the aftermath of the catastrophic December 2004 tsunami, which claimed tens of thousands of lives. Property damage was extensive, and hundreds of thousands of people have fallen into poverty after losing homes and jobs.1 As a result many children work as domestic servants and are often subjected to sexual abuse. An increasing number of children are exploited sexually, and especially young boys are forced into prostitution, both locally and in international sex tourism.2


In its 2003 concluding observations, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expresses its deep concern about the high level of malnutrition among children. Statistics show that about 23 per cent of new-born infants are underweight at the time of birth and that children belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are especially at risk, such as displaced and refugee children who have little or no access to health care services. The Committee is also deeply concerned about the surprisingly high rate of suicide among youngsters.3

Children in conflict

Tamil rebels were known to forcibly recruit children, particularly in the east. If the families refused to send a daughter or son to fight for "the cause", they were often subjected to threats and harassment and the children were eventually taken by force. According to UNICEF more than 40 percent of recruited children were girls, but unlike most girls being forced into armed conflicts, reports of sexual abuse were rare, and sexual relations between group members were strictly forbidden. However, boys and girls would still be beaten by their superiors and allowed no contact with their families. They were also forced to learn how to use weapons and mines, often causing permanent disability.4

And the conflict influences all aspects of the daily life, the violence spreading into everyday situations, affecting the children: In certain provinces in Sri Lanka which experienced ethnic conflict for many years, children account for one out of every five nonwar-related homicide victims. More than half of them are under 6 years of age and the proportion of male children is slightly higher. 70 percent of theperpetrators are blood/other relatives.5

Children without appropriate care

More than 19,000 children are staying in 488 voluntary residential care institutions in Sri Lanka and a total of 6,722 live in remand homes.6A large number of children are left behind as their mothers are forced to migrate for work, especially to the Gulf countries. Those children (between 200,000 and 300,000) often live in difficult circumstances and may be subjected to different types of abuse or exploitation.7

In Sri Lanka, trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation
and child sex tourism remains a well organized economic activity that affects pockets of communities and their way of life. Both boys and
girls from very young age to adult age becomes involved.8


Children's rights have not been sufficiently incorporated into current national legislation and there are disparities in Sri Lankan general law, Kandyan and Muslim law with respect to the minimum age of marriage of a girl (12 years). According to the UN Committe of the Rights of the Child the views of the Child are not taken sufficiently into consideration in the current legislation, concerning family matters, school and the juvenile justice system. The Committee is also concerned about the apparent persistence of discriminatory attitudes directed towards girls, children born out of wedlock, children from poorer income groups, rural children, child refugees or displaced children, working children, children affected by armed conflicts and children of overseas workers. No specific rehabilitation measures exist for abused children, instead they are treated like delinquents. Corporal punishment also persists in Sri Lankan society and is accepted in schools.The age of criminal responsibility is low (8 years) and children between 16 and 18 years old are considered as adults by penal law.9


Sri Lanka has high rates of school drop out, discrepancies in education facilities (especially in rural areas), and an insufficiency of pre-school establishments which are usually managed by non-governmental institutions and are not under State responsibility.10

Search results (Showing items 1 through 10 of 114)

  1. Child Protection in Emergencies Facts and Figures

    Compiled by the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG), this report presents facts and figures on child protection in emergencies. Data was collected for the 42 countries that have a Humanitarian Coordinator or that were on the Inter-Agency's Standing Comm

    Publication year: 2015 Publisher(s): CPWG, The Child Protection Working Group

  2. The Women's Wealth and Influence Storybook

    The Women's Wealth and Influence Program teaches women how to be self-evident, build confidence, how to work as a group, and good business principles. This document is a collection of stories from women who have successfully gone through the program or ar

    Publication year: 2014
    Author(s): Lynch, William

  3. Tsunami Ten Years On, Stories of Change 2004-2014: Community perceptions of the Indian Ocean tsunami response and recovery

    The objective of this study is to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, sustainability, and impact of the tsunami response in Sri Lanka and Indonesia 10 years later. A cross cutting theme of this study is the assessment of whether communities are now better

    Publication year: 2014 Publisher(s): Save the Children

  4. Prohibition of Corporal Punishment of Children in South Asia: Progress and proposals for reform 2014

    This report discusses the legal provisions of the countries of South Asia to prohibit the use of corporal punishment of children. It finds that almost all countries in South Asia have laws which permit or authorize physical violence against children in th

  5. Literacy Boost, Gampaha District Sri Lanka Country Office Endline Report – December 2014

    This report examines the results of a learner background survey and reading assessment conducted in September 2014 as the endline evaluation of the USAID All Children Reading (ACR) Grand Challenge in Sri Lanka. The survey and reading assessment was admini

  6. The South Asian Report on the Child-friendliness of Governments

    Save the Children, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, Plan International, Terre des Hommes, and CRY: Child Rights and You launches a new comprehensive rights-based report which, for the first time, objectively measures the extent to which the South Asian gover

  7. Improving child nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress

    A new UNICEF report offering evidence that real progress is being made in the fight against stunted growth – the hidden face of poverty for 165 million children under the age of five. Stunting affects 165 million children under 5 years of age around the w

    Publication year: 2013 Publisher(s): UNICEF, United Nations Children's Fund

  8. UN World Food Programme, Protection in Practice: Food Assistance with Safety and Dignity, 2013

    How can agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) be sure that food assistance does not jeopardize the safety of the people they're trying to help? This is the question asked by the authors of a new book exploring the measures WFP has taken to keep peo

    Publication year: 2013 Publisher(s): UN World Food Programme

  9. Unlocking potential through education: Key achievements

    Globally, great strides have been made towards achieving universal primary education since 2000. However, there are still 57 million children worldwide who are denied their right to education, half of whom live in conflict-affected or fragile states and a

    Publication year: 2013 Publisher(s): Save the Children

  10. "The World we Want". Comsultations with Sri Lankan children on their priorities for post 2015

    Around the world, discussions are currently taking place on the framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they come to an end in 2015. Save the Children is committed to ensuring that the process of developing this new framew

    Publication year: 2013 Publisher(s): Save the Children