Human rights group offers to mediate female monks row
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Human rights group offers to mediate female monks row

The National Human Rights Commissioner (NHRC) has offered to mediate the dispute between the Sangha Supreme Council and Bhikkhunis, or female monks, to ensure freedom of religion is upheld.

Bhikkhunis and Sikkhamana take part in a seminar about their role in Thai society at the Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives centre, following the controversial ordination of women in Songkhla last month. Apichart Jinakul

A group of Bhikkhunis and laywomen visited members of the National Reform Council (NRC) at parliament last Friday in protest against the council’s announcement reiterating its stance against female ordination, which they say breaches women's rights.

The announcement followed a ceremony in Koh Yor, Songkhla in which male and female monks from Sri Lanka ordained 47 Sameneris and eight Bhikkhunis.

Dr Niran Pithakwatchara, member of the NHRC, said the SSC’s announcement suggested the council had a problem upholding women’s rights.

“They should be brave and create fairness, to exercise its power to start something good. Providing women with an ability to enter religious life is a matter of fairness, righteousness and beauty,’’ he said.

The NHRC will call a meeting with all stakeholders, including the SSC, next Monday to seek a way out.

Dr Niran was speaking at a seminar yesterday to boost understanding of Bhikkhuni ordination in Thailand.

About 100 Bhikkhunis, novices, laywomen and laymen joined the three-hour talk.

Mano Laohavanich, a lecturer at Thammasat University’s Chulabhorn International College of Medicine, said the SSC was unable to solve the problem of unusually rich monks such as Luang Pu Nen Kham Chattiko.

That showed the Sangha Act should be amended, he added.

“During this time of reform, I want to see Thai Buddhism seriously overhauled,” he said.

“Monks and temples should declare their assets. We also need gender equality in religion. Once we have those things, Thailand could be a hub of Buddism.”

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