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The family of a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by more than 40 perpetrators on different occasions in Phang Nga’s Takua Thung district has reportedly faced harassment and threats from members of the local community.
The Muslims for Peace Foundation, which has stepped in to aid the family, urged authorities to extend their full protection to the teenage victim and her family as foundation representative Chanon Abdullah yesterday said the girl’s 39-year-old mother had been confronted by angry villagers near the safe house where the family was staying.
The mother, accompanied by Chanon, filed a complaint with the Kok Kloi Police Station over the alleged sexual attacks, which reportedly took place between May and December last year. The girl’s parents are rubber tappers who work at night, forcing them to leave her alone at the time when the attacks reportedly took place.
The complaint states that the girl was first raped by an assailant at her home, then subsequently forced to go to huts in the area where she was drugged and gang raped by multiple perpetrators.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the first three suspects named by the victim and prosecutors indicted them on August 21 but they were released on bail. Chanon said his foundation was gathering evidence to present to the court seeking to cancel the suspects’ bail release as soon as possible. The court is due to hear witness testimony in November.
After the girl’s condition had improved following the relocation of her family, she was suffering additional emotional distress after villagers allegedly scolded her for ruining the village’s reputation, Chanon said.
He added that the family had faced hostility while staying at their previous home and villagers had thrown bricks on to the roof of the house.
“What is most worrying is there are attempts to stir up pressure against the family on Thai social media,” he said. “When the villagers called for justice [over the alleged ruin of the village’s reputation], why don’t they think of protecting the girl? What about justice for the victim?”
Channon added that the alleged perpetrators included both young and older people, while the girl’s family was underprivileged. Her mother had the girl while in a previous relationship before marrying a local rubber-tapper in Takua Thung district.
The Social Development and Human Security Ministry has dispatched a team of psychiatrists to provide assistance to the girl while officials also interviewed the girl’s mother and staff at the Phang Nga public prosecutor’s office yesterday morning.
The interviews were part of the investigation to determine if the case could constitute human trafficking, as the victim has said that she saw other girls being raped.
The girl’s mother said she had been reassured when the previous investigators, who had failed to collect evidence in the case, were replaced by a new investigative team. However, she said she was still worried that some of the 40 alleged perpetrators might harm her daughter.
A journalist who visited the village reported that all seemed quiet, but none of male residents wanted to comment on the case. One of the victim’s former neighbours, an unidentified woman who has a daughter, briefly said the case had made her feel unsafe and frightened.
STORY: The Nation
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