Sri Lanka reduces age of consent to 13 – report

[TamilNet, Friday, 16 September 2005, 15:54 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s cabinet has decided to reduce the age of consent for sexual encounters to 13 years, Justice Minister John Senevirathne announced Friday. He told the BBC’s Sinhala service the move to reduce it from 16 is a consequence of rising numbers of arrests of men for sexual relations with girls below that age.

According to the new amendment, the Attorney General (AG) will have the power to decide whether a young man under the age of 21 has actually raped a girl or the sexual encounter happened with the consent of the teenage girl, Minister Senevirathne told BBC Sandeshaya.

The government is concerned of the increased number of young men detained in remand prisons as a result of sexual encounters with their girlfriends, the minister said.

“Many girls are requesting to release them saying the encounter happened with their consent,” he added.

Any sexual encounter with a girl under the age of 16 is currently considered as a rape in Sri Lanka.

The younger generation in Sri Lanka are increasingly becoming aware of sexual relationships, the Minister said.

The government’s decision comes two days after a British man was detained allegedly sexually abusing several Sri Lankan children in the coastal southern town of Negombo and in Mannar.

A spokesman for the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) said the 51-year old, convicted pedophile in Britain, surrendered to police in the capital Colombo.

Three policemen said to be pursuing man entered Tamil- Tiger controlled territory and were arrested there earlier this week.


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