Sexual violence against both male and female civilians and combatants remains a depressingly common feature of contemporary armed conflicts. This article by Charya Samarakoon examines whether Buddhist teachings and practices might align with international humanitarian law (IHL) to help to address conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) involving Buddhist communities. Samarakoon proposes that insight into Buddhist teaching on lack of a permanent self – as expounded in the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta – can be combined with meditation as a practical means to dispel the toxic conceptions of gender that exacerbate sexual violence in armed conflict, and help foster compassionate behavior towards others. Indeed, psychological and neurological research has demonstrated that Buddhist meditation practices can reduce our ‘self’-focused outlook and increase our capacity for compassion, empathy and resistance to peer pressure. Training in Buddhist meditation, backed up by relevant Buddhist teachings, might therefore mitigate the individual and cultural attitudes that exacerbate the risk of CRSV.

This article is published in the peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Buddhism as part of the ICRC’s Buddhism and IHL project.

Charya Samarakoon holds a bachelor of laws degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, and currently is a researcher for the Research and Advocacy Team, Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Please read the article here.