NCPA tells temples to prevent abuse of novice monks
23 days ago | BY Sahan Tennekoon
The National Child Protection Authority, citing the increased incidence of assaults, physical, verbal and sexual abuse and harassment, against novice monks (samaneras) within temples, informed that it is the responsibility of the relevant clergy to take measures within the institution of the temples and their respective orders, to prevent such.
Chairman of the NCPA, Udayakumara Amarasinghe yesterday (4) said that the NCPA has already taken adequate steps against offenders who are accused of abusing novice monks in temples and has instructed the Police to take further actions if any criminal offences have been reported.
When queried by The Daily Morning as to whether the NCPA has taken any action regarding the recently reported cases of novice monks being assaulted and abused by various people inside temples, Amarasinghe said: “As the NCPA, we are capable of taking legal actions against any kind of child abuse irrespective of their status. We do not consider whether the victim is a monk or a civil person. If the victim is considered a child, we take all the possible steps that we can take. The most recent incident which has been reported is from Pussellawa where an eight-year-old novice monk had been tortured by another two or three novice monks aged between 14 -15 years. They had not abused this monk sexually but had assaulted and tortured him in a very cruel manner. So, such an incident cannot be taken as sexual harassment. It comes under criminal offences. Therefore, we instructed the Police to look into the case and to take necessary steps against the offenders. These types of cases are being reported very often and I therefore tell the necessary authorities that they must take steps to prevent such cases at the institutional level,” he said.
He also said that the NCPA abides by the law to take actions against such cases whether it receives a complaint or not. “Sometimes, we do not receive all the cases as complaints made by the public or the Police. But, we are looking at what is going on around us and if we come across such cases, we instruct the Special Police Investigation Unit affiliated with the NCPA to act in accordance and if it comes under criminal offences, we divert it to the Police Department directly. Anyhow, we are trying to get involved in this matter as a Government institution that has the power to act in such cases,” he said.
Recently, the Chief Sangha Nayaka of the Ramanna Sect - Southern Province, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera had urged the Chief Prelates of the main Buddhist Sects to wake up from their slumber and to act to stop incidents of child abuse in places of worship in the future.
The latest reported incident involved a novice monk at a temple in Pussellawa where he was allegedly abused by three monks on 23 April. This was because the novice monk had failed to recite sermons.
Efforts made to contact the Chief Prelates of the Sects and the Minister of Buddhasasana and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka proved futile.