This is evinced by high-profile cases like that of Nitiwadee ‘Mor Nim’ Pucharoenyos, a victim of domestic violence who was a few months ago spared the death penalty when the appeals court found her not guilty of killing her estranged husband back in 2013, while her mother was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting the murder out of love for her daughter. It seems like a lot of females have started waking up to the idea of gender justice.
This includes bubbly Chiang Rai-born teens Chaya and Suwannee, who attended the recent International Day of the Girl camp and forum, which was organised as part of Plan International Global Campaign and their Thailand Country Office’s key programme area on Gender Justice and Woman’s Empowerment.
The camp saw attendants aged between 14 and 19 years old.
“This experience only served to solidify my belief that as a girl I can choose who I want to be and what my basic rights are,” said 14-year-old Chaya.
Held Oct 6-9, the event attracted over 30 young ladies from different parts of the country. The objective was also to raise awareness on the issue of Child Early and Forced Marriages, which often result in holding girls back from gaining access to opportunities that would help them reach their full potential.
During the camp, participants reflected on their experiences and were encouraged to share their ideas on the topic “On The Pathway To Gender Equality”. Here they learned about such issues as power within, power analysis, gender equality, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, identity and intersectionality.
Sixteen-year-old Suwannee shared her sentiments.
“I was eager to learn about my rights even though I know we have them. However, there are times as young adults when we are discouraged to use them to the fullest by the environment we are in. Attending this camp has empowered me to further pursue the rights I am entitled to.”
Suwannee lives in a small and remote village in Chiang Rai where most of the people who have power are men. Women, on the contrary, have no rights to make their own decisions or express opinions. After the camp, Suwannee hopes to share her knowledge she gained so that people in her neighbourhood realise that women also have the power within.
“We have to realise that we have rights so we can than take the next step,” said Suwannee.
Despite efforts by NGOs, the problem regarding gender-based violence still continues to spiral out of control in society. According to Supensri Pungkhoksung, women’s-rights advocate and director at the Social Equality Promotion foundation, violence against women today is at an all-time high, and thanks to social media we know that a significant number of perpetrators are from the middle to upper-middle-class echelons of Thai society.
Thailand has strong laws against gender-based violence, but victims still find it difficult to report such crimes to law enforcement.