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Child abuse by monks: Buddhist Sects to support legal action

Child abuse by monks: Buddhist Sects to support legal action

26 May 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • Asgiri Chapter says disciplinary action only upon conviction by court    

The Asgiri Chapter of the Siam Sect stated that all Buddhist sects will provide full support to enforce law against Buddhist monks accused of molesting children, while there is no possibility of taking disciplinary action against such Buddhist monks until they are found guilty following court proceedings.

Recently, the Chief Prelate of the Ramanna Sect - Southern Province, Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera urged the Chief Prelates of the main Buddhist Sects to act to stop incidents of child abuse in places of worship.

Speaking to The Daily Morning yesterday (25), the Secretary of the Supreme Sangha Council - Asgiri Maha Viharaya, Ven. Dr. Medagama Dhammananda Thera said that they always advise the relevant authorities to introduce new laws to prevent such incidents, and to initiate legal action against individuals who commit such offences as per the existing legal provisions. "We always work to prevent such incidents which can be seen both among the clergy and lay folk. There are programmes to educate monks and prevent them from engaging in any form of wrongdoing. We also support the authorities to initiate legal action against anyone who commits an offence. No one representing any Sect interferes in any way with legal action against any form of crime," he said.

When queried regarding the process of initiating disciplinary action against Buddhist monks who engage in certain appropriate acts, Dhammananda Thera said that disciplinary action could be initiated against someone only when they are found guilty through the relevant court proceedings. "Someone has to be proven to be a criminal to initiate other action against them. It is something that the courts do. We can take action only when it is done."

Meanwhile, it was recently reported that the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs is to express its view regarding preventing the incidence of assaults, and physical, verbal and sexual abuse and harassment, against novice monks (samaneras) within Buddhist temples once the preparation of the relevant report is completed. 

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