10 Social Stigmas that Still Exist in Sri Lanka

DESIblitz explores ten social stigmas that still exist in Sri Lanka, shedding light on the challenges faced by its people.

10 Social Stigmas that Still Exist in Sri Lanka - F

This stigma perpetuates gender inequality.

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean,’ is renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture.

This island nation, located just off the southern coast of India, boasts a range 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 grapple with social stigmas that impact various aspects of life.

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

Mental Health Issues

10 Social Stigmas that Still Exist in Sri LankaMental health remains a significant stigma in Sri Lanka, where discussions about mental illness are often hushed.

Those suffering from mental health issues are frequently seen as weak or possessed by spirits.

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

Despite some progress in awareness, mental health care services are still limited, and cultural perceptions hinder their utilisation.

Divorce and Separation

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

Women, in particular, face severe judgment and ostracism if they seek a divorce, often being blamed for the failure of the marriage.

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

Human Rights Watch notes that such societal pressures significantly impact women’s rights and freedom.

Single Parenthood

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

They are often viewed with suspicion and face discrimination, impacting 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 around single parenthood can lead to economic and social hardships for both parents and children.

LGBTQ+ Community

10 Social Stigmas that Still Exist in Sri Lanka (4)Despite some advancements in LGBTQ+ rights globally, Sri Lanka remains conservative regarding issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Homosexuality is still criminalised under colonial-era laws, and LGBTQ+ individuals face widespread discrimination and violence.

Fear of social exclusion and legal repercussions forces many to conceal their identities.

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


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

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

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

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


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

They are often seen as burdens and are excluded from mainstream society.

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

The International Labour Organisation emphasises 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 familial and societal pressure, leading to strained relationships and, in some cases, forced separations.

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

Human Rights Watch reports that fostering interfaith dialogue is essential for reducing such prejudices.

Tattoos and Body Art

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

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

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

Local social norms still heavily influence perceptions about body art.


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

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

UNICEF emphasises 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, particularly those involving physical intimacy, are highly stigmatised in Sri Lanka.

Couples in such relationships often hide their status due to 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.

While Sri Lanka has made strides in various areas of development, these social stigmas highlight the ongoing challenges faced by its people.

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

It is crucial for both the government and civil society to work together in combating these deep-rooted stigmas.

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

Managing Editor Ravinder has a strong passion for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. When she's not assisting the team, editing or writing, you'll find her scrolling through TikTok.

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