Phuket’s modern day overlords
PHUKET: The region should applaud the bravery of the young rape victim from Myanmar in standing up for her rights and convincing her family to press charges against her attackers, even after her father initially agreed to accept a cash settlement to simply move on and “forget” the matter (story here).
The girl’s recounting of events is a particularly disturbing tale; one that reflects the difficult realities facing the children of untold tens of thousands of undocumented migrant workers from Myanmar here in Phuket.
Not only do these workers take on the backbreaking work that most Thais will not touch in the fishing, rubber-tapping and construction industries, many have to put up with the kind of mental and physical abuse most Phuket Gazette readers could hardly imagine. On top of all this, many have to raise children as well.
King Chulalongkorn the Great abolished slavery and other forms of enforced servitude in the Kingdom with the passage of the Slave Abolition Act in 1905. The historic event has been symbolically depicted on the back side of every 100 baht banknote printed since its 100th anniversary in 2005. However, on the eve of the year 2015, when the terms of the Asean Economic Community are set to finally take force, it appears that much of the “overlord mentality” associated with slavery persists among some Thai employers.
It is understood that the vast majority of those on the island who employ workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos treat them with dignity and respect.
However, the construction-business owner’s confession to raping the 14 year old – with his own wife shockingly named as an alleged accomplice – reveals the extent to which the mistreatment of migrant workers, as well as their innocent offspring, persists today.
This case must be pursued to the fullest extent of the law – unlike so many previous cases that have been dropped due to the victims’ fears of repercussions.
Just one such case that comes to mind is that of a Phuket Town man who in 2011 allegedly posed as an officer of the law so he could allegedly rape numerous ethnic Nepali women working in Patong.
Because the victims were too afraid to testify, he was charged only with impersonating an officer of the law – still a common ploy used by thugs to take advantage of migrant workers.
Credit must also be given to the Foundation for Education and Development for its role in giving the young victim in this case a chance for real justice.
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