Thailand ranks among top 10 countries for violence against women and girls


Recent reports that Thailand ranks among the top 10 countries in the world for violence against women and girls have triggered alarm and calls for immediate action.

Domestic violence seems to be the cultural norm in Thailand, illustrated by the Thai saying “If you love a cow, tie it. If you love a child, spank it.”

This common advice reflects a general perception that violence is an acceptable way to discipline or control others.

Domestic violence in Thailand, particularly against women and girls, is on the rise, according to recent studies.

Headlines in Thai newspapers attest to the growing trend of household violence, ranging from detention and physical abuse to rape and murder.

Data collected by the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation from a 2022 study of 11 Thai newspapers plus online media sheds light on the daily reality of domestic violence.

A total of 372 news articles reported cases of domestic violence during the year, with 24.7% linked to alcohol abuse and 17.2% to drug use.

More alarmingly, a majority of the cases (52.4%) were murders. Physical harm accounted for 22%, followed by suicides at 14%, sexual violence at 8.1%, and other forms of abuse at 3.5%. These findings reveal a troubling inclination towards severe violence within Thai families, a matter that the nation should address with urgency.

The data paints a grim picture of abuse of women by men, indicating that husbands or boyfriends are responsible for violence against wives or girlfriends in 60–70% of all domestic violence cases.

Advocates and activists are calling for stricter laws, better access to support services for victims, and comprehensive awareness campaigns to challenge traditional gender norms and promote healthy relationships.

Thailand ranks among top 10 countries for violence against women and girls

Calls for sexual harassment law

Prominent women's rights advocate Jaded Chouwilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, told The Nation that Thai law is limited when it comes to protecting women and girls, particularly from sexual harassment. While there are laws on rape and indecency, they focus primarily on physical violations and do not adequately cover other forms of sexual harassment, such as verbal and online abuse.

Jaded highlighted the need for a comprehensive sexual harassment law in Thailand. He emphasised that such abuse is not limited to families but occurs across all social groups due to the inadequacy of current Thai law.

"The Thai legal framework has significant weaknesses, and laws pertaining to sexual harassment primarily focus on workplace harassment faced by civil servants. These laws do not offer protection to women who are not civil servants," he said.

Jaded added that the law does not explicitly address the use of gaze, speech, or social media in committing acts of sexual harassment.

"Comprehensive sexual harassment laws are essential to addressing the issue effectively. They should encompass all forms of sexual harassment, including physical, verbal, and online harassment, and protect all individuals, not just civil servants.”

Jaded Chouwilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation

He called for laws targeting sexual harassment, focusing on three key aspects:

  • Gender equality in education

Jaded stressed the importance of incorporating gender equality into Thailand's educational curriculum. From primary to university levels, educational institutions should teach values of equal respect and responsibility for both genders.

  • Culture of gender equality

To foster an environment where individuals of all genders are treated equally, it is essential to instill the principles of gender equality in society. This includes challenging traditional stereotypes and behaviours that perpetuate inequality.

  • Media depictions

Jaded called for regulations against media content that portrays sexual harassment. He emphasized that sexual harassment should be recognized as a serious offense under criminal law and be protected against by comprehensive legislation.

Jaded's advocacy underscores the importance of promoting gender equality and taking concrete steps to protect individuals from sexual harassment, regardless of their background or occupation. These efforts aim to create a safer and more equitable society for everyone in Thailand.