Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Steven Heine

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Christine Gudorf

Third Advisor's Name

Nathan Katz

Date of Defense



The purpose of this research was to investigate how Buddhism affects the status of Thai women by (1) not directly addressing concerns regarding the sex trade industry, (2) not allowing for the legitimation of a bhikkuni sangha (community of higher ordained women) and (3) denying mae chis (5-9 precept nuns) access to education and other privileges.

The study is significant from the standpoint of public health since there is a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Thailand, and also in regard to human rights because of the growing international interest in women's rights issues. This study is based on a review of key literature on the topic, along with observations and on-the-ground accounts of Thai Buddhism from travel opportunities to the country in recent years.

The findings suggest that Buddhism contributes to the low status of women by defining how they are viewed based on Buddhist scripture and traditional Thai culture and by systematically failing to provide the same religious outlets for women that men are allowed.




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