Child Abuse by a Monk in Habaraduwa

"All the people in the village have taken one side against us. They have taken the side of the monk. Whatever the monk does, they take his side. So our going to the temple school stopped completely."

The narrator:

(May 27, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) She sent her grandson to school with the idea of providing him with proper education to make him a good person. The Buddhist monk in charge of the temple asked her to send the child to the temple and she sent him there because they were poor. There was no possibility for them to pay the money for tuition fees. That was the reason why they sent the boy to the temple school.When the child began to refuse going to the temple school so adamantly, grandmother had to look for the reason. It was then only that she discovered that the child who was sent to learn good behavior, ethics and Buddha’s Dharma from the monk had in fact been abused by the monk.

Story as told by the grandmother of the child.

My grandson went to the temple school. He went to the temple school of Habaraduwa, managed by one monk by the name of Malgama Hemasiri. I accompanied the child to the temple several times. The Buddhist monk asked us to have a ‘Bhodhi Pooja’ and he told us that as the scholarship exam for the fifth standard is near, the two children can join the other children for classes at the temple. He was sent to the temple’s school in order to learn some arithmetic for the scholarship exam. I agreed with the monk when he made that suggestion. I respected him.

I got pens and the books as requested by the monk. Then the child took the books and went to the temple. He went like that for few days. There was no trouble. I gave ‘Dana’ to the temple. On the 22nd of every month there is a ‘Dana’ and I did those works relating to the ‘Dana’. There was the ‘Katina’ ceremony and I attended to that also. I had a ‘pooja’ there. Then I stayed at home.

One day, one child who was going to school with my son came. That child told me that something had happened. I asked him what kind of thing had happened. Again, he said that something had happened. I did not really take lot of notice about it.

Then the mother of the child called me one day and told me this. There is something that has happen to the child and he says he cannot go to school. I was sick. I had half paralysis. I cannot go about very much. Even despite of difficulties I somehow went at this request. When I went and asked that child, he told me something like this. He said that it came out of the mouth of the children. Then I asked what kind of thing are you talking? I am really very ashamed to talk about it what I heard. In the way that man would use a woman; this monk has used the child after taking him to a room. He has abused the child.

I had very severe sadness in my mind. I went on crying and asked what we can do about this. Then the person who told me about these things said that similar things has happen also to the son of their daughter. He has gone with that child to the police. I didn’t want to go to the police and I said we will go to the Temple’s Council (Dayaka Sabawa) about this. At our request, the council of temple was called. That was on the 29th of November 2009. We went to the council and we were seated. Then we were called and somebody said that people who want to talk about some problem about the monk can talk now.

We told them that the two children can talk and they could say what has happened. So the children were called. The children told what happened to this council. The both children told them what has happen to them. Then some people in the council shouted at us and said that they will not allow anything to be done against the monk. They said that they will not allow us to talk against the monk. They started threatening us. One person came forward and if you are not happy with the monk you should get out from this temple. Then we walked out. Then we walked out and we came out. We just prayed to God and we prayed to the ‘God of Hooniyan’ and said that the neck of these people should be broken. We were not lies. Then we were told by these people, you can go and do whatever you like. You can go to the police or to the courts.

Thereafter both of us who took the children talked among ourselves and we went to the police. And we went and took steps according to the law. Then the Inspector who was there said, “Mother, I too have children and I will take the necessary steps regarding this”. He presented the case to the court. The case was presented to the Magistrate court. We have been to the court now three or four times. On their side they bring five, six proctors to talk on behalf of the monk. We don’t have money to have lawyers. If we did not have a place like this office to come and complain, we don’t have any place. I am an old person. I have a great difficulty in bringing up this child. He does not have his mother. We are very poor humble people. If we don’t get some help even from an office like this one, where can we go?

All the people in the village have taken one side against us. They have taken the side of the monk. Whatever the monk does, they take his side. So our going to the temple school stopped completely.

They are saying that they are going to take away the child. I never thought something like this will happen to us. We always worship the yellow robes of the monks. That is the robe of Buddha. We respect the yellow robe. If not for that, we would not be patient like this. We cannot tolerate this. Even now they are throwing stones at our houses. We don’t know who are throwing stones. Then some people who are the parents of the monk came and told us save their son. I felt sorry and I went and told the lady who is handling the case from the probation department. I did that because of the respect of the yellow robe(Sivura). After that, somebody called the younger brother of the monk came from Galle. They said that they have four brothers. Then I told them also as much as they care for their brother, we also are caring for this little child of ours. These children who are studying are young, and they are of value to us.

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