Of late, Thai officials have been urging Buddhist monks to avoid using social networking sites to woo women. This comes after a social advocacy group found this to be the best past time for many Buddhist monks. All the hype around this story comes on the heels of alleged rape allegations by a teenager from north-eastern Thailand. The police have since arrested a 23-year-old monk. It is alleged that the monk befriended the teenager on Hi5 and then lured her to meet him in his room, where he apparently tried to rape her.
Jakrapob Penkair, a junior minister, in an official statement urged Hi5 users to tell the monks to leave the site if they were using it. It seems that Thailand, known for high rate of prostitution, intends to improve its image internationally. In fact, reports of monks being caught either using or selling drugs or even having consensual sex with women are not met with surprise in the Thai media.
A senior Culture Ministry official, however, said monks should not be banned from cyberspace. Nevertheless, he added that the monks should consider these moments of “crisis”, and rather spread the teachings of Buddha to the young. Ladda Thangsupachai, head of the Cultural Surveillance Centre, said, “Instead of using the Net to flirt with young girls, monks should find ways to preach Dharma and lead them in the right direction.”
After all, it is generally said, everything has a plus and minus factor attached to it. Some use social networking for constructive purposes, while there are some that use it wrongfully. Either way, policing and moderation is needed at times to maintain the balance.