by Maheesha Mudugamuwa
Prostitution and same sex marriages would not be legalised in Sri Lanka, Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala said.
Minister Athukorala made the announcement amidst revelation that more than 4,500 new HIV cases and 24 AIDS deaths were reported in Sri Lanka in the first six months of 2016, with the number of victims increasing compared to the same period in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, approximately 2,377 cases of HIV were reported, with nine AIDS deaths, and in the second quarter more than 2,400 HIV cases were reported, with 14 deaths reported.
According to the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), most HIV patients were aged between 25 and 45 years and Sri Lanka was at risk of a full-blown AIDS epidemic due to factors such as 35 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, the migration of males from rural home areas to urban areas and other countries in search of work, the trafficking of women and girls into prostitution, structured commercial sex and casual sex with non-regular partners and the low status of women causing an inability to negotiate safe sex.
She was addressing an awareness programme held in parallel with national Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and AIDS Control Programme for foreign employment trainees at Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) on Thursday (09). The aim of the awareness programme was to improve the quality of lives of the migrant workers and to ensure their health.
European Commission (EU) report on assessment of the application for GSP+ by Sri Lanka had recently mentioned about prostitution and same sex marriages. But with the mixed political ideologies regarding the report was finally misinterpreted that Sri Lanka was going to legalise prostitution which was completely wrong. Minister Athukorala explained.
She said migrant workers should be more aware about these topics specially about HIV/AIDS as it was important for their lives as they were going to work in a modern world.
In addition Minister Athukorala noted that her ministry had already launched mobile service for the welfare of migrant workers in each divisional secretariat. Six programmes were held in six divisional secretariats of Trincomalee District. Several other mobile services would be held in Polonnaruwa District within this week.
It was revealed during the mobile services held in Trincomalee that there had been no information about Sri Lankans who left the country in the periods of 1997 to 1998 and 2000 to 2003, Minister Athukorala said.