10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka

This stigma perpetuates gender inequality.

Often called the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture.

Located just off the southern coast of India, this island nation boasts an array of attractions, from ancient temples and bustling cities to tea plantations and golden beaches.

Known for its hospitality and warmth, Sri Lanka offers a unique blend of tradition and modernity.

Despite its beauty and progress in many areas, Sri Lanka continues to struggle with social stigmas that affect various aspects of life.

DESIblitz will explore ten social stigmas that still persist in Sri Lanka, shedding light on the challenges faced by the population.

Mental health problems

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri LankaMental health remains a major stigma in Sri Lanka, where discussions about mental illness are often kept silent.

Those who suffer from mental health problems are often seen as weak or possessed by spirits.

According to the World Health Organization, this stigma discourages individuals from seeking help, worsening their conditions.

Despite some progress in awareness, mental health care is still limited, and cultural perceptions hinder its use.

Divorce and separation

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (2)Divorce is highly stigmatized in Sri Lankan society, where traditional views on marriage prevail.

Women in particular face harsh judgment and exclusion when seeking a divorce, often being blamed for the failure of the marriage.

This stigma forces many to remain in unhappy or abusive relationships, prioritizing societal approval over personal well-being.

Human Rights Watch notes that such societal pressures have significant consequences for women’s rights and freedom.

Single parenting

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (3)Single parents, especially single mothers, face significant social stigma in Sri Lanka.

They are often viewed with suspicion and face discrimination, which impacts their social and professional lives.

The lack of support systems and societal judgment makes it challenging for single parents to raise their children independently.

UNICEF reports that the stigma surrounding single parenthood can lead to economic and social hardship for both parents and children.

LGBTQ+ community

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (4)Despite some progress in LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, Sri Lanka remains conservative when it comes to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Homosexuality remains criminalized under colonial-era laws, and LGBTQ+ individuals face widespread discrimination and violence.

The fear of social exclusion and legal consequences forces many to hide their identity.

Human Rights Watch emphasizes the need for legal reforms and greater social acceptance to protect LGBTQ+ rights in Sri Lanka.


10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (5)Menstruation is a deeply stigmatized subject in Sri Lanka, shrouded in myths and misconceptions.

Women and girls often face restrictions during their menstrual cycle, such as being banned from entering temples or participating in certain activities.

This stigma perpetuates gender inequality and impacts women’s health and education.

According to UNICEF, improving education on menstrual health and hygiene is crucial to empowering women and girls in Sri Lanka.


10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (6)People with disabilities in Sri Lanka face significant social stigma and discrimination.

They are often seen as a burden and excluded from mainstream society.

Lack of accessibility in public spaces, limited educational opportunities and inadequate employment prospects further marginalize persons with disabilities.

The International Labor Organization emphasizes the importance of inclusive policies and practices to integrate people with disabilities into society.

Interfaith marriages

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (7)Interfaith marriages are rare and socially frowned upon in Sri Lanka, a country with a complex tapestry of religious and ethnic identities.

Couples in interfaith marriages often face family and societal pressures, leading to strained relationships and, in some cases, forced separations.

This stigma highlights the deep-seated religious divisions that still exist in the country.

Human Rights Watch reports that promoting interfaith dialogue is essential to reducing such prejudices.

Tattoos and body art

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (8)Tattoos and body art are stigmatized in Sri Lankan culture and often associated with criminal activity or rebellion.

People with visible tattoos may face discrimination in professional and social settings.

This stigma is slowly changing among younger generations, but it remains widespread and affects personal expression and cultural acceptance.

Local social norms still have a major influence on the perception of body art.


10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist In Sri Lanka (9)Adoption in Sri Lanka is surrounded by stigma, with adopted children and their adoptive families often facing prejudice.

Biological descent is highly valued, and adoption is sometimes seen as a lesser option, leading to societal discrimination and emotional challenges for adopted individuals.

UNICEF emphasizes the need for better education and support systems for adoptive families to combat this stigma.

Premarital relationships

10 Social Stigmas That Still Exist in Sri Lanka (10)Premarital relationships, especially those involving physical intimacy, are highly stigmatized in Sri Lanka.

Couples in such relationships often hide their status for fear of social condemnation.

This stigma reinforces conservative views on sexuality and limits open discussions about healthy relationships and sexual health.

According to Human Rights Watch, promoting comprehensive sex education can help address these issues and reduce the stigma associated with premarital relationships.

Although Sri Lanka has made progress in several areas of development, these social stigmas highlight the ongoing challenges faced by its population.

Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach, including education, policy changes and cultural shifts.

It is crucial that both government and civil society work together in the fight against these deep-rooted stigmas.

By promoting a more inclusive and accepting society, Sri Lanka can continue its journey towards progress and ensure a better future for all its citizens.