It’s scandal time again and this time, we move to the Land of Smiles for more news featuring rogues in robes.
BANGKOK: — Police arrested a monk accused of raping a 14-year-old girl. The monk confessed to the crime, saying he was under influence of alcohol.
Phra Mahasanan Atipatto, 64, was hiding in Phayao province when the police apprehended him, following complaint from the girl that she had sexually assaulted her at his former temple, Wat Bang Bua, in Bang Khen District of Bangkok.
The girl told police the monk lured her to visit him at his temple in April this year by promising her free food, an offer she said she accepted because her family was in poverty. The monk reportedly raped her there before paying her 80 baht and threatening her not to tell anyone.
In spite of what happened, she said, she continued to visit the monk for food, due to her family′s financial situation. But she said she had taken care not to be with the monk alone during those visits.
On 28 May, however, when Phra Mahasanan reportedly called the girl to visit him for free food again, the girl came to see the monk with her 2 friends. The monk then asked the girl to buy him some alcohol so she went out buying the alcohol, leaving her friends with the suspect, according to the victim.
When she came back,she said, she saw the suspect touching her friends, so she ran inside, dropped the items on the floor and headed for the exit. Unfortunately the monk allegedly grabbed her and raped her again while her friends managed to escape.
Here is what a Farang residing in Thailand has to say:
I actually think ordinary people DO THINK that monks are above the law. They also held Buddha responsible for all their stupid actions and tragedy in stead of learning the simple laws of cause and effect and start improving their lives. No, the last free part of their mind has been hijacked by Buddhism what is actually primitive animism and the monks make use of it hence they can afford to keep building temples with gold-plated roofs and drive in Rolls Royces with iPhones in their pockets.
I’ve corrected some of the spelling and grammar, but I think the author has hit the nail on its head. To raise an army, you must either have a lot of money to hire mercenaries or you create a religion – so said a great science fiction writer, the late Isaac Asimov. A religious army is better. Promise them heaven and they will fight to their deaths. Promise them money and they’ll make sure they survive.
Abuse of trust and power can occur in any society where a group of individuals is highly revered by a compliant, unquestioning populace. Social hierarchy is virtually the backbone that holds Thai society together. Unfortunately, too many precepts are taken for granted and too many people in Thailand believe that monks are demi-gods who can reverse the course of their misfortunes even without them taking any concrete and practical steps to improve their lot. Success is the result of praying right (which sometimes means bribing the evil spirits) and failure is the result of praying wrong or not praying at all.
Just look at the case above. The girl was lured to the monk’s temple by free food. It doesn’t matter how you look at it. The girl is way underage and the monk is supposed to be celibate – especially on temple grounds! Thais may have been able to close one eye if the girl were Farang, but it was probably the presence of witnesses that made her break her silence. Buddha knows how many people who knew about this one way or another had been living in denial because Thai society may not be able to handle the truth. Things look a little more promising now but that also means that the backbone of Thai society may snap as more scandals are exposed and an uncertain rebirth of a new normal lies ahead.