Issues: child abuse; police investigation; impunity; rule of law; justice

According to information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a 15-year-old girl in 10th Grade at A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, Madatugama, Kekirawa was arbitrarily expelled by the Principal. When she began vomiting during an outdoor celebration of International Children’s Day on 2 October 2017, a group of students misinformed the Principal that the girl was secretly pregnant. Without listening to the girl’s story or seeking medical evidence, the Principal expelled the girl. After her parents subsequently took her to the Dambulla Base Hospital, the medical officers examined her and categorically refuted such allegations, reiterating that the girl is not pregnant, with an intact hymen, and no evidence of sexual behavior or assault.

 

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Mr. H B Kiribanda (66) and Mrs. D M Somawathi (57) are resident of Hewenthennegama, Madatugama in Kekirewa, married and are the parents of a 15 year old girl. Their daughter, a 10th Grade student of A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, a government school in Madatugama, Kekirawa, Anuradhapura District received an unjustly harsh punishment from her school Principal and disciplinary committee, to expel her from her school.

On 2 October of 2017, the school organized an event to celebrate the International Day for Protection of Children in 2017. The event took place as an outdoor activity, in heavy sunshine. While participating in the event, the girl started vomiting, as she had not had breakfast, resulting in a gastric reflux. She was then admitted to the Damubulla Base Hospital. Currently she is receiving treatment at the Dambulla hospital following severe psychological trauma.   

Later the girl’s parents were asked to appear before the principal of the school, where they were requested to sign a document prepared by the principal. The illiterate parents were under pressure and could not understand the content or the consequences of the document they are going to sign. Later they learned that the principal has expelled their child from school following a disciplinary inquiry conducted by the school principal and disciplinary committee.

On the day the girl vomited in school, a group of her peers misinformed the principal that the girl was secretly pregnant. Following that, the school principal promptly summoned the girl’s parents and handed them an expulsion letter stating that the school will not tolerate their students being pregnant.

The parents then admitted their daughter to the Dambulla Base Hospital to conduct a pregnancy test and informed the medical officials of their daughters’ plight. Following several tests, the doctors confirmed that the student had not had any sexual activity and was not pregnant. The doctors categorically denied the allegations leveled against the child by the school administration, stating her hymen was intact and there was no evidence for any sexual behavior or assault.

According to the parents, their daughter was victimized by a group of jealous peers envious of her academic and extra-curricular achievements.   

Meanwhile, the Principal of the A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, Mrs. S.K. Godakanda told the national media that the school disciplinary committee came to this harsh conclusion due to the unsettled and uncouth disciplinary history of the student in question. She further stated that their decision was supported by the fact that the student herself had confided in two of her friends confirming her pregnancy. The victim and her parents refute these allegations.
 
The girl is currently receiving treatment at the Dambulla hospital, having undergone severe psychological trauma. Hospital sources confirm that women’s and children’s rights groups were informed of the incident.

The right to education is a fundamental and basic right of all children within the country. The right to have a reasonable hearing is also a fundamental right for any citizen. Without considering the testimony of the child, her parents and medical evidence, it is unlawful for the school to expel her.

The girl wants to be readmitted to the same school and continue with her education. As she needs to sit for her General Certificate Examination of Ordinary Level (GCE/OL) within a year, it is essential that she is provided all the necessary facilities and safeguards.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate inquiry into the expelling of a student from a government school on unfounded allegations. All those found responsible should be prosecuted and disciplined accordingly.

The AHRC will also write a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Chairman of the UN Child Rights Committee in this regard.

To support this case, please click here:  

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Fifteen-Year-Old girl expelled from her school under ill-mannered procedure in Dambulla

Name of Victim: Ms. X (not her real name for obvious reasons), is a 15 year old girl of a 10th Grade student of A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, Madatugama, Kekirawa in Anuradhapura District

Alleged perpetrators: Principal of the A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, Madatugama, Kekirawa in Anuradhapura District
Date of incident: 2 October 2017

Place of incidents:  Kekirawa Educationa Zone

According to the information I have received, a 10th Grade student of A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, a government school in Madatugama, Kekirawa, Anuradhapura District received an unjustly harsh punishment from her school Principal and disciplinary committee, to expel her from her school.

On 2 October of 2017, the school organized an event to celebrate the International Day for Protection of Children in 2017. The event took place as an outdoor activity, in heavy sunshine. While participating in the event, the girl started vomiting, as she had not had breakfast, resulting in a gastric reflux. She was then admitted to the Damubulla Base Hospital. Currently she is receiving treatment at the Dambulla hospital following severe psychological trauma.   

Later the girl’s parents were asked to appear before the principal of the school, where they were requested to sign a document prepared by the principal. The illiterate parents were under pressure and could not understand the content or the consequences of the document they are going to sign. Later they learned that the principal has expelled their child from school following a disciplinary inquiry conducted by the school principal and disciplinary committee.
 

On the day the girl vomited in school, a group of her peers misinformed the principal that the girl was secretly pregnant. Following that, the school principal promptly summoned the girl’s parents and handed them an expulsion letter stating that the school will not tolerate their students being pregnant.

The parents then admitted their daughter to the Dambulla Base Hospital to conduct a pregnancy test and informed the medical officials of their daughters’ plight. Following several tests, the doctors confirmed that the student had not had any sexual activity and was not pregnant. The doctors categorically denied the allegations leveled against the child by the school administration, stating her hymen was intact and there was no evidence for any sexual behavior or assault.

According to the parents, their daughter was victimized by a group of jealous peers envious of her academic and extra-curricular achievements.   

Meanwhile, the Principal of the A/Madatugama Sri Rewatha Navodya Vidyalaya, Mrs. S.K. Godakanda told the national media that the school disciplinary committee came to this harsh conclusion due to the unsettled and uncouth disciplinary history of the student in question. She further stated that their decision was supported by the fact that the student herself had confided in two of her friends confirming her pregnancy. The victim and her parents refute these allegations.
 
The girl is currently receiving treatment at the Dambulla hospital, having undergone severe psychological trauma. Hospital sources confirm that women’s and children’s rights groups were informed of the incident.

The right to education is a fundamental and basic right of all children within the country. The right to have a reasonable hearing is also a fundamental right for any citizen. Without considering the testimony of the child, her parents and medical evidence, it is unlawful for the school to expel her.

The girl wants to be readmitted to the same school and continue with her education. As she needs to sit for her General Certificate Examination of Ordinary Level (GCE/OL) within a year, it is essential that she is provided all the necessary facilities and safeguards.

I therefore request your intervention to ensure an immediate inquiry into the expelling of a student from a government school on unfounded allegations. All those found responsible should be prosecuted and disciplined accordingly.

Yours Sincerely,

---------------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
Inspector General of Police

New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC

Attorney General
Attorney General's Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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