FISD organized the first ever BUD Forum in Sri Lanka in December 2023, marking a significant milestone in the BUD campaign. The primary objectives of this forum were to officially launch the FISD Policy Brief and convene key stakeholders, including government bodies, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and prominent child rights activists in Sri Lanka, for a compelling and insightful panel discussion.
During the engaging panel discussion, the discourse revolved around the deeply concerning repercussions of ignoring and perpetuating negative social norms in Sri Lanka contributing to sexual abuse against boys. A thorough examination of reported abuse incidents revealed a distressing trend: well-intentioned efforts by parents and service providers inadvertently worsened the situation due to a fundamental lack of understanding about sexual violence against children, particularly boys.
The discussion delved into the deeply ingrained societal beliefs, originating from an early age, that regard sexual acts as an entitlement for males—a facet deeply entrenched in patriarchal masculinity. These entrenched norms have created significant barriers, hindering effective acknowledgment, prevention, and intervention against instances of sexual abuse among boys.
Moreover, the panel highlighted how these social norms have cultivated a misconception, wherein sexual violence is seen as a means for boys to bolster their masculinity rather than recognizing the severe harm it inflicts. The Forum participants emphasized the urgent necessity to dismantle these damaging ideals.
The BUD Forum 2023 served as a pivotal platform in Sri Lanka, not just for raising awareness but also for fostering ongoing dialogue, forging vital partnerships, and catalyzing actionable initiatives. Its overarching goal was to contribute significantly to the holistic protection and empowerment of boys within Sri Lankan society.