Sri Lankan activists slam PM's plan to ordain boys as 'Buddhist monks' over sexual abuse fears

Colombo, Oct 16 (ANI): Sri Lankan child rights activists have reportedly criticised the country's Prime Minister DM Jayaratne for his plan to ordain 2,600 boys as Buddhist monks by next May to mark the 2,600th anniversary of Lord Buddha's enlightenment.

The BBC quoted Jayaratne as saying, that that the move is aimed at boosting Buddhism and lifting young people out of poverty and added that his government would not only provide financial aid to the young monks to go to university but also plans to provide financial assistance to their families.

"We will be seeking donations from the public but if there are shortcomings, the government will provide funds," he added.

The activists, however, are angry at the plans to ordain the boys, who they say could be as young as 10 and claimed that the children have a universal right to be with parents, siblings and friends until they reach the age of 18.

Dr Hiranthi Wijemanne, an activist who is nominated by Sri Lanka to a UN child rights panel, said that leading Buddhist monks should set an example by opposing such schemes.

"I think it is our duty to oppose ordaining boys as it is a clear violation of children's rights," she added.

Meanwhile, several reports of sexual abuse in the temples have emerged, the report said.

Sri Lanka's National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has reportedly arrested scores of Buddhist monks for alleged sex abuse of boys in their care in recent years. However, only one of them was convicted on sex abuse charges.

"I can't fully compare it with Tamil Tigers' child soldier recruitment, but there are some similar aspects. I strongly condemn this crime against our children," the BBC quoted Professor de Silva, a former chairman of the NCPA, as saying.

Discussing child abuse, particulary in Buddhist temples, is taboo in Sri Lanka, as it is in many conservative societies in South Asia, the report said. (ANI)

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