Child Monks of Sri Lanka

Buddhist TALIBAN Monks to recruit 2600 child toys...

Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 6:49 PM SL Time

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Child rights activists in Sri Lanka have criticised a plan by the prime minister to ordain 2,600 boys as Buddhist monks by next May.

Prime Minister DM Jayaratne says the move is aimed at boosting Buddhism and lifting young people out of poverty.Activists say the boys are too young to be ordained. There have also been reports of sexual abuse in the temples

Mr Jayaratne told BBC News the young monks would be helped financially and funded to go to university. The government also plans to provide financial assistance to their families, he said.

But activists are angry at the plans to ordain the boys, who they say could be as young as 10.

They say children have a universal right to be with parents, siblings and friends until they reach the age of 18.I think it is our duty to oppose ordaining boys as it is a clear violation of children`s rights,` she said.

She says children from rich families are rarely ordained at such a young age.Sri Lanka`s

National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has arrested scores of Buddhist monks for alleged sex abuse of boys in their care in recent years.

Just one monk was convicted on sex abuse charges. There have been numerous allegations of abuse from parents and children.

`I strongly condemn this crime against our children,` he said, adding that the government should improve the country`s economy rather than `allowing the children to be abused`.

Discussing child abuse - particulary in Buddhist temples - is taboo in Sri Lanka, as it is in many conservative societies in South Asia.

The BBC repeatedly sought the government`s view on fears the boys could be abused. Children`s Affairs Minister Tissa Karalliyadda did not respond.