By Janaka Perera
The National Child Protection Authority’s raid on Prem Nivasa, the Catholic-run Charity at Rawathawatte, Moratuwa has apparently disturbed a hornets’ nest. Is this the only organization in Sri Lanka that law-enforcement agencies have raided following complaints?
There is no doubt a controversy surrounds the allegations made against the charity. But have not people (both members of the laity and clergy of other religions too) been arrested before on suspicion or on complaints made regarding child abuse or other offences. Some have been arrested, some acquitted and others convicted – among them Buddhist monks. But have Buddhist prelates and Buddhist organizations protested against such arrests?. Did they hold media conferences and threaten to boycott state functions?
The media briefing held in this connection appears to be a public relations exercise by the Catholic Church for international consumption and an attempt to judge the case even before it is heard. The Sri Lankan Constitution grants no special privileges to members of any religious body if they are suspected of violating the law. If the courts decide the missionaries had done no wrong there is no reason for not acquitting them.
If the media reports are proved unfair and unbalanced there is provision in the law to sue those responsible. Why not allow the law to take its course without interference?
Trafficking in humans has been one of the heinous crimes that have plagued the world to this day and Sri Lanka is no exception. Last October a BBC documentary exposed a 50-year scandal where nearly 300,000 Spanish babies had been stolen from their parents and sold for adoption for a period of five decades. A secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns had been trafficking children in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early 1990s.
Mothers, often young and unmarried, had been told their babies had died after they gave birth. In reality, the babies were sold to childless couples at very high prices. Grieving mothers were sometimes shown a dead baby that was kept in a freezer or were told they couldn’t see the body.
A decade ago senior Irish journalist Michael Milotte exposed how between the end of World War II and 1965 over 2,200 Irish infants were adopted out of the country mostly by couples in the U.S. Milotte’s work emphasizes the physical brutalization and the trauma the mothers suffered. When matters came to light it led to an uproar in the country. .
According to Banished Babies what is most devastating is that this type of human exploitation stems from a fatal mixture of religion and politics, which have failed to respond effectively in supporting the victims and bringing the abusers to justice
The Protect Your Children Foundation and Growing in Grace International Ministry have demanded that justice be done for all of the horrendous acts committed on innocent children and their mothers. The two organizations categorically state that an apology is not enough.