Protests Held to Condemn Child Abuse by a Buddhist Monk in Wattavalai, Sri Lanka

Protests Held to Condemn Child Abuse by a Buddhist Monk in Wattavalai, Sri Lanka
Photo via Pixabay


Sarah Thanawala 

Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence 

On 23 February 2022, a protest was held by the villagers in Wattavalai against the abuse of a child by a Buddhist monk (Tamil Guardian, 2022). The protests highlighted the urgency of ensuring “appropriate legal action be taken against the monk, to provide justice for the victim and prevent more children from being abused” (Tamil Guardian, 2022). Belonging to the Haiti garden vihara, the accused Buddhist monk allegedly abused a child in Templestow garden (Tamil Guardian, 2022). Following the incident, the victim’s father filed a complaint at the Wattavalai police station and the accused was arrested (Tamil Guardian, 2022). 

The issue of child abuse by the Buddhist clergy has been increasingly rampant in the last two decades in Sri Lanka (Pathirana, 2012). Disturbingly, the conviction rates have been considerably low and even rare (Pathirana, 2012). Among such rare convictions, on 18 June 2020, Colombo High Court sentenced a Buddhist monk to eight years of imprisonment on the charges of sexually abusing a nine-year-old girl (Colombo page, 2020). Hence, it is imperative for the judiciary to ensure accountability of this gross human rights violation committed against children, and for the Sri Lankan government to ensure machinery to prevent such abuse.

Sources and further reading:

Colombo Page (2020, June 19). Buddhist monk sentenced to 8 years for sexually abusing child. Colombo Page. 

Pathirana, S. (2012, June 1). Sri Lanka’s hidden scourge of religious child abuse. BBC News.  

Tamil Guardian (2022, February 24). Wattavalai villagers demand justice for boy abused by Buddhist monk.