The Challenge....Combatting sexual abuse in Sri Lanka

The Challenge

In Sri Lanka, girls who have survived sexual abuse and have the courage to take their perpetrator to court are placed in protective shelters during their court cases. While living in these shelters, they are isolated from their community and do not have access to formal schooling; Consequently, without programs like those that Emerge offers, these young women lack the education, skills, and capital to be self-sufficient when they transition back into communities. Without a support network or skills, and facing incredible societal stigma, it is easy for these young women to be exploited.

Child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka

of men in Sri Lanka have perpetrated rape [1]
of reported rape victims are under 18 years old [2]
of abusers in Sri Lanka are known to their victim [3]

Victims face tremendous obstacles

  • Victims often suffer from severe PTSD, struggling to overcome past trauma and believe in their own capacity to take control of their lives 
  • In the case of pregnancy, abortion is illegal and minors are not old enough to give children up for adoption
  • Societal stigma can make it to find work, housing, educational opportunities, or even allies
  • Integrating into society after years of living in an institution, where they lacked access to formal education or the outside world, leaves girls vulnerable to unsafe relationships and work

But, our girls are courageous survivors who come forward despite the odds

of Sri Lankan college women report that they were sexually abused as a child [4,5]
of child abuse cases are reported in Sri Lanka
of the girls of Emerge have had the courage to come forward

...and, they have big dreams.

“I want to start a store with my skills and savings.”

“My dream is to bring my daughter back home.”

“I am saving my money to buy a plot of land and build a house.”

“I want to change the use of drugs and alcohol in Sri Lanka.”

These girls are the best investment you can make

Support our programs and invest in these incredible young women.

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[1] 2013 UN multi-country cross-sectional study:

[2] 2012 reports by the Women’s Bureau of the Police Department, cited in

[3] 2005 study funded by UNICEF in Anuradhapura, Colombo South, and Ratnapura: 

[4] 2009 study of 2,435 students (most of whom were 18 years old) in southern Sri Lanka found that 14.4% of girls had experienced childhood sexual abuse:

[5] 2009 study of 1322 undergraduates from the University of Kelaniya, found that 34% of female students had experienced childhood sexual abuse: