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Activists say reform is needed to end sexual abuse in Thai schools

Caitlin Ashworth



PHOTO: Reuters / Chalinee Thirasupa

Her mouth taped shut. Red marks around her neck. Dressed in a schoolgirl uniform, a woman held a sign saying “A teacher committed sexual abuse against me. Schools are not safe.” The photo from a recent pro-democracy protest quickly spread online, drawing criticism from some while others say reform is needed to end sexual abuse and harassment in Thai schools.

Some social activists say the justice system does not fairly treat victims who report sexual abuse and harassment. Thai women’s rights activists have recently been seen at protests calling on an end to “victim blaming,” saying that women are often blamed for sexual assault and even rape because of the way they dress.

Manager of Social Equality Promotion Foundation, Supensri Puengkhoksung, says the justice system needs to step up and deliver prompt punishment to prevent repeat offenses.

At schools, many executives do not thoroughly investigate abuse allegations due to fears that it could damage the school’s reputation, Supensri claims. She says the perpetrators rarely face any punishment and the victims are stigmatised, with some dropping out of school due to embarrassment.

Sexual crimes in schools are seldom reported to police, according to police superintendent of the Children and Women’s Protection Subdivision, Jiraklit Jarounapat. He adds that those abused by their teachers don’t report the abuse because they’re afraid about repercussions like getting a bad grade in class.

Commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Siam Boonsom, says the majority of students who reported abuse say their teacher violated them during a field trip or extracurricular activity outside of school.

“Parents shouldn’t let their children attend activities outside of school for long periods of time, or go on trips with their teachers alone.”

Supensri adds that children need to be educated at an early age about predatorial behaviour to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of sexual harassment and abuse. She says children in kindergarten should be taught to recognise inappropriate behaviour while older children should be taught on how to report abuse.

“Safe spaces must be created in public places and schools should be equipped with alert systems that can be triggered when an emergency occurs.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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