Children report sexual abuse cases by Bhutan's Buddhist monks

The World

Bhutan's Buddhist monks have long faced rumors of sexual assault, but two young whistle blowers have escaped after enduring abuse and shared their stories with journalists for the first time.  

An 11-year-old monk named Thinley told The Raven, Bhutan's monthly newsmagazine that calls itself the country's "guardian," that he had been sexually assaulted multiple times by elder monks at a monastery in Punakha, about 45 miles northeast of the capital city of Thimphu. 

"Every time I tried to scream or struggled, he pinned me with his body, put his hand over my mouth and covered it tightly," he said. 

The underage monk said that he and his 12-year-old friend at the monastery, Penjore, were often asked to sleep with the senior monk in turn. The Raven reported that two other young Buddhists — Tshering, 11, and 9-year-old Dorji — were also forced to perform sexual favors for the 60-year-old monk, referred to as Agay. 

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“This is the first time that child sexual abuse among monks has been reported to us,” Chhoekey Penjor, deputy chief information officer at the Children’s Division of the commission, told Religion News Service, confirming the allegations were found to be true and adding that "necessary action was taken." 

This is hardly the first time sexual abuse has been reported in Bhutan: in 2009, a report by state-owned paper Kuensel Daily found that monks were engaging in "thigh sex," in which a man uses another man’s clenched thighs to masturbate. 

In 2011, Kalu Rinpoche, a highly-respected Tibetan Buddhist master, posted a video online admitting that he had been sexually assaulted as a young monk: