Article: "The sound of silence: sexual abuse in Cambodia’s Buddhist pagodas"

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"An unregulated pagoda environment, the status of monks and the downplaying of male rape means that abuse of children in the monkhood is likely more widespread than anyone dares to admit"

"Samnang, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was barely 15 years old when he left home for Ratanak Mony Rong Ko pagoda in Kralanh district on the outskirts of Siem Reap town. Born into a poor family in a run-down village, and desperate for a way out, he asked his parents to send him to study with the local monks.

“My family had so many problems – they were fighting a lot,” he tells Southeast Asia Globe. “I wanted to be calmer. So they had to send me to live in a pagoda, where I could have free food and education with the monks.”

Bearing the shaved head and saffron robe of a novice, Samnang says he took to his studies of scripture and the ancient Buddhist language of Pali with relish, rising every morning to sing the holy scriptures of his faith. Fifteen kilometres from the nearest village, Ratanak Mony Rong Ko was a small pagoda with just nine other boys studying alongside him under a handful of monks. Above these monks was 45-year-old Vong Chet, the abbot, or chief monk, of the pagoda. A man whose words carried great weight with the community, he soon began to take an interest in the pagoda’s newest arrival."

"“The Ministry of Cults and Religion, with support from Unicef, is developing a Child Protection Pagoda programme with the aim of making pagodas a safer place for children, including establishing reporting and referral mechanisms if children face abuse in those settings,” she says."As a child protection organization, these stories and articles are very difficult to read. We are appreciative of the CPU's work in this case and look forward to reviewing the 'Child Protection Pagoda Programme' that is being developed. It is imperative that changes are made to protect children in Pagodas and throughout Cambodia.To read the entire article, follow the link here.Source: Southeast Asia GlobeDate: February 12, 2018Full Article: