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In the wake of the brutal gang rape and murder of an 18-year-old schoolgirl in Pungudutivu, Jaffna and the subsequent public outrage, the government is contemplating setting up a special police division to investigate complaints of violence against women and children.

State Minister of Children’s Affairs, Rosy Senanayake, speaking to The Nation, said discussions were being held on establishing such a division, which would be headed by a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police and comprising specially trained police personnel.

Minister Senanayake also said as part of an ‘anti-rape’ initiative, discussions had also been held on the possibility of establishing a task force to investigate complaints of rape. This unit will be functioning under the special police division mentioned above. It is also due to be proposed that the after the necessary infrastructure is in place and the new division established, women’s desks operating at police stations island-wide will be brought under the division.

The initiative is a joint venture by various arms of the government, including the State Ministry of Children’s Affairs, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Sri Lanka Police.

Speaking further, the minister said the government was also looking at introducing legislative amendments to fast track the hearing of rape cases as well as having a separate unit at the Attorney General’s Department comprising senior state counsellors to prosecute such cases.

However, the minister said one of the most important aspects of ensuring the judicial protection of children is the enactment of a ‘National Policy on Child Protection’ which is long overdue. The policy draft is now in its final stage and will be presented soon, she further revealed.

She, however, pointed out it was difficult to say when exactly the special police division will be established. “If there is no election is called, it could happen within the next two weeks. However, if Parliament is dissolved before then it will happen at the next parliament,” the minister observed.