I vividly recall a conversation I had with a senior Thai monk when I attended the 2001 conference of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Bangkok. I asked the Venerable, “Why doesn’t the Thai Sangha speak out against the rampant sexual slavery imposed on children in Bangkok and other Thai cities?” He immediately replied, "Oh, you must understand that these girls must have done something evil in their past lives, perhaps committing adultery. That is why they became prostitutes in this life. Of course, there is hope for them in their future lives.”
...This raises the critically important question of how Buddhism can hope to play a constructive, let alone compassionate, role in contemporary society if it cannot confront and overcome this understanding of karma? (Ven. Daizen Brian Victoria, "The Reactionary Use of Karma in Twentieth Century Japan")
Is the senior monk's interpretation of kamma mistaken, or is this what Buddhism actually teaches (based on MN 135, etc)? In your personal opinion, is it a valid explanation for child prostitution in Thailand?
Does his statement reflect the prevailing attitude among Buddhists in Thailand or other traditionally Buddhist countries?
Since human rebirth is rare, and most of our past lives have been spent in the lower realms, does it make any coherent sense to attribute ills such as prostitution to past life miscreance such as adultery? Can we seriously believe that someone is a prostitute today because they cheated on their spouse many eons ago? Isn't this a bit superstitious?
How would you answer the author's question: "how can Buddhist play a constructive, compassionate role in contemporary society if it cannot confront and overcome this understanding of karma"?
When you encounter someone who is severely afflicted, does the idea occur to you that their affliction is "because they did something wrong in a past life"? How do you personally interpret karma as it relates to affliction?