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‘Pretty’ death shines spotlight on abuse in Thai model and promotions industry

The Thaiger



‘Pretty’ death shines spotlight on abuse in Thai model and promotions industry | The Thaiger
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PHOTOS: Facebook/Rachadech Wongthabutr, Instagram/’Lunlabelle’ Thitim

The mysterious death of ‘pretty’ Thitima Noraphanpiphat in Bangkok last week is gripping Thailand and highlighting risks women who work in the service and promotions industry face every day. Her dead body was found in the lobby of a Bangkok condo.

Police have arrested a male model in connection with the 25 year old’s death last Wednesday after CCTV footage appears to show him dragging her lifeless body into an elevator and leaving her on a sofa in the lobby of his apartment.

But the main suspect, 24 year old Rachadech Wongtabutr, the last person Thitima was seen alive with, was initially questioned by police but subsequently set free after he denied any criminal involvement. Police are also investigating others who could be involved, including the hosts of the party and guests.

“Security camera footage appears to show Rachadech entering his apartment building with what appears to be an unconscious woman and taking her up to his room on the 6th floor. Hours later footage allegedly captured Rachadech carrying the woman back into the lobby and placing her on a sofa.”

Interest in the case from social and main-stream Thai media became intense after police confirmed that Rachadech had posted photos of Thitima, aka. ‘Lunlabelle’, on social media on the night she died. The release of CCTV footage from his condo added to the more rumours and speculation about Thitima’s death.

“Suthipong, the police chief, said that Rachadech acknowledged that he took Thitima to his apartment but denies the charges, saying he thought she was just drunk and didn’t realise she had died.”

Thitima was a model, her family’s main bread-winner, a product presenter and party entertainer – better known in Thailand as ‘pretties’ – and had been paid to serve drinks at a party on September 16 at a house outside Bangkok in Nonthaburi, on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya.

Since then Thitima’s death has dominated headlines in Thai media. The circumstances surrounding her final hours are now the centre of intense Thai rumours and gossip.

Then on Thursday, police arrested six more people who attended the same party after another woman – ‘Dear’ – complained to police that she was forced to drink so much that she ended up unconscious. She told police woke up naked the next morning. She was also hired to serve drinks at the same party, police said.

The case is highlighting Thailand’s glittery service and promotions industry where women – known as “pretties” – are hired for events such as auto shows, parties, and in bars and nightclubs.

Sexual harassment and abuse are common, and the women are often pressured into drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Thai society looks down upon the work of “pretties” and the stigma often puts them off filing official complaints or seeking legal recourse if they are abused.

Thitma’s death is sparking calls for new laws to be introduced to protect those working in the industry and awareness campaigns to change attitudes surrounding their work.

Police report that a preliminary autopsy report shows that Thitima died from “extreme alcohol intoxication.” The findings indicated a blood alcohol level of an astonishing 418 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

An attorney working for Thitima’s family have told CNN that they are waiting for a new autopsy to be completed by October 2. They claim her death was “suspicious”.


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