Women’s groups urge tougher sex offence penalty

Women’s groups urge tougher sex offence penalty

Women’s advocacy groups say the public needs to stand up for the implementation of better measures against state authorities involved in sexual harassment.

Youth social worker Ticha Na Nakorn called for improved legal action against such officials, calling the existing sex offence law a “paper tiger” that fails to bring culprits to real justice.

The failure of current measures against sexual harassment can be seen in a slew of recent cases of state authorities, including one senior official in public health who was accused of molesting several female colleagues for many years, said Ms Ticha.

Ms Ticha recently spoke at a seminar at Ebina House Hotel in Bangkok on how laws offer protection to victims of sex crimes.

The forum was co-hosted by the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation (WMP) and other relevant agencies.

Ms Ticha said that unnecessarily complex bureaucratic procedures made probing sexual harassment cases challenging.

Accused officials can also appeal against probe results if found guilty.

“Disciplinary action probes against those [accused] authorities is only a ritual to comfort victims,” said Ms Ticha. “In fact, fairness is not provided for them at all because of sluggish investigation processes.”

According to Angkhana Inthasa, chief of the WMP’s gender equality department, the foundation deals with around 30-40 cases of female victims of rape or sexual assault per year.

About 90% of the victims experienced these acts through people they already knew, including superiors, senior figures at educational institutes or friends’ boyfriends.

One female university student at WMP, who was raped by an older male authority figure in March, opted not to lodge a police complaint as legal processes were too time-consuming. Instead, she demanded justice by petitioning the university, resulting in disciplinary punishment against the wrongdoer.