A joint report published by the National Police Bureau and the National Research Institute reveals that eighty-seven women or children in Thailand are raped every day. One in every sixteen minutes.
And those are only the reported crimes.
This is a slight increase on the figures released in 2014 which reported 30,000 rape cases per year between 2009 and 2013, an average of eighty-two per day.
Of 656 rape cases reported to the Paweena Foundation, a protection agency for women and children, the ages of the victims ranged between eighteen months and eight-five-years old. However, 60% of them were university students or school pupils.
The agency found that the rapists mainly came from three groups;
2. Friends of the victims.
The foundation report concluded the reasons for violence against Thai women and children are;
1. Media influence in the shape of television scenes showing leading actors raping women.
2. The influence of drugs and alcohol.
3. Male dominance over women in Thai society.
4. Men who themselves were abused as children.
5. The vulnerability of some women in Thai society.
6. Mental instability.
7. Lack of respect for women in Thai society.
The Death Penalty does exist in Thailand for the crime of ‘raping a woman or girl under the age of 15 with a gun or explosives, or with the intent to murder, is punishable by death if it results in serious injury.’
However, since 1999 an admission of guilt has only led to life in prison and early release or pardon is common. This, apparently, has resulted in fewer rapes ending in murder, in order to ‘cover up the crime’ in fear of being identified later. The repeat offender rate is high.
More recently there have been loud campaigns calling for the death penalty to be mandatory in rape or murder cases, especially where the victim is a child under fifteen.
The Foundation found that in many cases the rapist was educated but were able to manipulate and take advantage of women who owed them money. Most of the women were exploited by people they trusted and who they considered close.
Many victims claim they were tricked or blackmailed and, to some extent, felt forced to ‘consent.’
Society as a whole is beginning to accept such violence as normal, or acceptable. Only last year a seventeen-year-old student was raped and the crime recorded on a smart phone camera by one of her so called friend. The clip was then used to blackmail the victim.
A seven-year old girl was raped and a pregnant women sexually assaulted.
A twenty-five-year old British tourist was violently raped in Pai and gave harrowing details of how the Thai police blamed her for ‘drinking too much and accepting a lift.’ The suspect’s story, that they were a couple, was quickly accepted.
A thirteen-year-old girl was raped and then pushed off a moving train and killed by a railway worker. His defense was that he was drunk. The railway company responded by insisting ‘we must call a meeting with every side involved and will have to revise our recruitment process.’
The current legal system in Thailand does not adequately defend the victims of sexual assault and rape. Cases tend to progress very slowly until both sides have to compromise and a small financial settlement ends the matter.
Agencies committed to help victims lack resources and are unable to provide effective legal aid. And the police do not seem interested. In one, recently reported, case an injured woman went to a police station for help only to be told there was nothing officers could do because ‘the situation in the country is not normal at this time.’
Former Miss Thailand World 2014, Nonthawan ‘Maeya’ Thongleng, (pictured) displayed a poster on Instagram calling for a change in the law and commented: ‘I’ve always thought of this. I want it (the law) changed already. Be more strict, please. #Rapistsmustbeexecuted
A petition on the online social movement website Change.org calling upon Thailand’s military leader to make such a legal change attracted nearly 15,000 signatures within one day.
‘The offenders, once arrested and sentenced, usually get pardoned and released from jail. And when they get out, they commit the crime again and again to the point that judicial power in Thailand is no longer sacred.’ the petition read.
Col. Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the ruling junta, said its leader, Army Commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, urged the authorities to quickly prosecute the perpetrators and called on the relevant agencies to seek extra safety measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring.
To date, despite these figures being in the public domain since 2009, the level of sexual violence against women in Thailand has yet to decrease.