Tattoos and Piercings in Sri Lanka


Here Head of Operations, Lee, discusses the cultural perception of tattoos and piercings on placement.

We promise we’re not disciplinarians creating rules for the sake of it. Every ‘rule’ has been put in place for a reason, and part of living and working in another country is blending in and adhering to cultural norms.

As we’ve said before, we’re well respected in the communities where we work and are seen as teachers and practitioners. As a result, tattoos and piercings need to be covered up and taken out. In Sri Lankan culture, specifically, body art is sometimes associated with drug culture and criminality.

Therefore, in the local community, please keep piercings limited to one stud per ear. If you have additional ear piercings, a facial or tongue piercing you’ll have to take it out whilst at projects. Enlarged lobes must be replaced with flesh coloured or clear retainers.

No visible tattoos are permitted. Our volunteers with tattoos cover them up with clothing or with strategically placed bandages and tube grips. Yes we look like the walking wounded, but it’s better than the alternative, which is that our students’ parents assume that we are involved with drugs and won’t let their children continue to come to our lessons.

Now you know the score, volunteers simply cannot attend projects if dressed inappropriately or if tattoos and piercings are visible. If anyone continues to breach dress code they will be asked to leave the placement. I know it sounds harsh but we need to be able to continue the work we do and breaking the dress code puts the future of our organisation at risk.

Lee MLee