Judicial reform urged to help rape victims

A leading human rights activist called for judicial reform yesterday to encourage rape victims to speak out.

A leading human rights activist called for judicial reform yesterday to encourage rape victims to speak out.

Addressing a seminar co-hosted by 21 youth organisations and the Institute for Children and Youth Media at the Journalist Association of Thailand, former National Human Rights commissioner Naiyana Supapueng said capital punishment for rapists was not a solution to the crime.

Instead, the judicial process should be reformed in a way that encouraged rape victims to press charges against their assailants, Ms Naiyana said. The judicial system must be reformed so that when victims come forward with their tragedy, they must be completely protected.

Some police say rape victims are to blame for dressing inappropriately. This belief prevents victims coming forward, she said. Ms Naiyana cited the recent rape-murder of 13-year-old “Nong Kaem” as a case in point. She said Wanchai Saengkhao, the accused, had confessed to police he had raped before, but got away with the crime because his victim was afraid to come forward and report it to the authorities.

The death of Nong Kaem could have been prevented if Mr Wanchai’s victim had been able to report him to police, Ms Naiyana said. She said the police investigation process also needed reform to ensure rape victims are respected and their cases are not lumped in with other crimes. “I once took a victim to a police station to report a rape. We were asked by an officer what the case was about. When we said rape, he shouted across the room to others, embarrassing the victim,” she said.

“Police must be discrete and respect victims’ feelings,” she said.

Kemporn Virunrapat, another rights advocate, blamed TV soap operas and advertisements as contributing to sexual crimes in society. She said many Thai soap operas revolve around leading male actors sexually assaulting female characters who then fall in love with the perpetrators. “Viewers think it’s fine to use physical aggression to sexually abuse women because it’s common in soap operas,” she said. She said advertisements that portray attractiveness as a woman’s most important quality also contribute to rape culture.

SOURCE www.bangkokpost.com