The divorce rate in Thailand tripled between 2009 and 2012, from 10.8 to 33 per cent, while domestic violence has been recorded in at least a third of Thai families.
Violence against women and girls is not confined to any particular culture or religion. It cuts across boundaries of wealth, religion, race and culture. Statistics show that nearly seven in 10 women around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 38 per cent of all murders of women are committed by their partners.
Such abusive behaviour is rooted in longstanding social practices, connected with an inability or unwillingness to apply the fundamental principle of the equality of women and men, and to recognise the fundamental right of every human being to be treated with respect. Oppression and violence can only be fully overcome by a commitment to justice, equality and unity that protects every human being.
Without gender equality, unity is a chimera. The immediate challenges facing Thai society in this regard are twofold: The foremost challenge is to recognise and accept that, in spite of legal guarantees, gender equality is not yet a reality in this society and that fundamental changes in attitudes and behaviour must take place in individuals and families. The secondary and perhaps more difficult challenge is to know how to apply the principle of gender equality in daily life, in the absence of established behavioural models.
Inequality retards not only the advancement of women, but also the progress of civilisation itself.
Promoting the entry of greater numbers of women into positions of prominence and authority is a necessary but not sufficient step in creating a just social order. Without fundamental changes in the attitudes and values of individuals and in the underlying ethos of social institutions, full equality between women and men cannot be achieved.
The biggest way we all can take action is to speak out about domestic abuse and violence. If you know of any friend or a relative who has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, say something. If you don’t start there, nothing will change.