A young girl has lodged a case at the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) detailing the relentless corporal punishment and abuse she experienced at her school in Sri Lanka, when she was just 11 years old.
The case, believed to be the first of its kind, has been accepted by the top UN body, and asks the court to protect all children in Sri Lanka from corporal punishment, and to put an end to conflicting legislation inside the country which has created a loophole allowing child assaults.
Speaking to the Voice of the Child from London, Adriana Wickramanayaka Cutter, who is now 14, talked about the violence she experienced at an international school in Sri Lanka and how it led to a trauma diagnosis.
Like many children at school in Sri Lanka, Adriana was subjected to repeated blows to the head, painful bouts of ear pulling and demands to kneel before male teachers in front of the class, as forms of discipline. After her parents complained, the school waged a bullying campaign against Adriana, which lasted almost two years.
Her brother Alex Wickramanayaka Cutter, 18, spoke about how his sister’s treatment affected him, and what happened to him after his parents objected to the routine use of corporal punishment at the school.
Adriana and Alex’s mother Dr Thushara Wickramanayaka, who is the daughter of former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, and the founder of the Stop Child Cruelty Trust, joined the call from Sri Lanka to explain how the law suit came about, and why it is needed to put at end to a culture of child assault around the world.
Dr Fenton-Glynn, who has written a pioneering book, Children and the European Court of Human Rights, will be talking about the contents of her book, which look at ECHR case law touching upon areas including juvenile justice, immigration, education, religion, family life, child protection, and adoption.
The event takes places today, Wednesday 24th March 2021, from 3pm – 4pm, and appears to be free to attend.
Josh MacAlister, the head of the new care review looking into children’s social care in the UK, has announced that he will not help families and children who have been hurt or negligently treated by professionals inside the sector.
In his engagement plan, MacAlister said the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (IRCSC) would look to the future rather than provide any historical context, and that it would not “remedy the individual poor experiences individuals may have faced.”
How an inquiry can offer anything of value without looking into allegations of gross misconduct and negligence is beyond us, but that is the official line MacAlister has chosen to take.
If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the engagement plan — rather condescendingly — adds, “To summarise simply, if willing, we want you to use your experiences to help us build a better system for future generations and tell us about what we can fix now for those of you that already have children’s social care experience. We will support you to contribute to the review by providing specialist and professional support [provided by the NSPCC and Child Line], or you might want to access support by speaking to someone you already trust.”
Despite offering no incentive for families to get involved at this point, the plan then goes on to list the ways in which people can help the inquiry, by sharing what they think should be done to improve children’s social care. These include, workshops, local discussions, focus groups and online surveys.
Our priority suggestion would be to ensure that the sector is held accountable for every negligent act and injury.
And we will be calling this review Josh MacAlister’s review from now on, to reinforce the understanding that this is not a faceless, people-less review, but one which is run by real humans, who should be held accountable when doing a job, particularly one as important as reviewing an entire system.
Language has never been more important – calling something a review, or an inquiry, makes it too easy for people to hide behind an inanimate object without a conscience. This is Josh’s review.
A free online seminar about child protection and the family justice system being held today will feature former President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby.
The open event, organised by Royal Holloway university and entitled, “Inequality & Rights: Child Protection & the Family Justice System”, will include a presentation by James on the social work sector’s treatment of vulnerable families and children, and experiences of parents inside the child protection system during the pandemic.
The symposium will be opened by Robert Jago, Head of Law and Criminology, & Social Work at Royal Holloway.
The Parent, Family and Allies Network, Professor Brid Featherstone and Professor Anna Gupta at Royal Holloway, will also be speaking at the event.
The Eventbrite page for the symposium includes a statement which says the conference has been launched so that child welfare professionals can, “reflect on the important concerns facing children and families and professions who work with them in these challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing social and economic inequalities facing marginalised groups. The rights of individuals, and groups in such a context present a keen challenge for professionals working in the child protection and family justice systems.”
The statement adds, “This symposium, organised jointly by the Departments of Law and Criminology, & Social Work, brings together important debates to discuss key issues of concern. Located within a framework of human rights and social justice, the symposium seeks to contribute to scholarly, and policy and practice understandings.”
The film, entitled, “The Celtic Boys Club Scandal”, was made with money raised by the survivors and their family members through a crowdfunding platform. Hundreds of people donated to the project, which was aired for the first time on 13 March. The film, which is 45 minutes long, has already been watched more than 18,000 times since its YouTube launch on Saturday.
Individuals who contributed to the documentary include Michelle Gray, whose brother Andrew was abused by the club’s founder Jim Torbett, and died in a pool accident in 2017; Helene Gray, Andrew’s mother; abuse survivor Gordon Woods and; Dr John Marshall, a psychologist based in Scotland whose work focuses on addressing trauma stemming from child abuse.
Tweeting about the short film on Saturday, Dr. Marshall said, “The Celtic boys club sexual abuse scandal documentary just released. Crowdfunded too! Thinking of the boys who were abused and their families. You are an inspiration. Amazing work by @GoldbergRadio and co.”