Uni probes bare-breast hazing stunt

Uni probes bare-breast hazing stunt

Transgender student forced to take off shirt

Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin (RMUTR) has set up a committee to take disciplinary action against senior students who forced a transgender freshman to strip topless in front of her friends during a hazing ceremony.

The university also issued a public apology for the incident, saying it hopes students will learn from what happened and emphasising that it opposes sexual harrassment.

The RMUTR is facing criticism on social media after a Facebook user posted a message revealing details of the incident on Saturday.

The message read: "My sister who is a transgender was recently sexually abused by her seniors during a university hazing ceremony. She was forced to take her top off in front of her friends.

"She felt humiliated because she has breasts due to the effect of contraceptive pills, but some seniors were watching and laughing at her."

The plight of the transgender freshman went viral online and sparked outrage from netizens. Disgruntled online users asked the university to probe the matter and punish those involved.

Some Facebook users also posted a message condemning the university for letting students undergo such rituals.

Seniors initially denied the incident took place, while the university asked students notto comment on the matter on the internet.

However, the victim herself broke her silence by confirming on Facebook that the incident happened. The victim, informally known as Ammy, wrote she is a freshman at RMUTR Hua Hin campus's Faculty of Industry and Technology.

On June 28, she joined a hazing ceremony organised by senior students together with 69 other freshmen.

"At one point, seniors asked every male student to take their tops off. I did not want to do it because I have breasts like a woman, but they still forced me to do so, so I had to cover my breasts with my hands," she wrote.

Ammy said that since no one has apologised for the incident, she felt she should come forward and tell the public the truth.

"If anyone wants to apologise to me, I'm willing to accept and forgive because I do not want the university to be affected, but no-one involved has had the courage to do so,'' she said.

Meanwhile, the Thai Transgender Alliance, a network working to promote human rights for transgender people in Thailand, also criticised the incident, saying it clearly violated the student's human rights.

Jetsada Taesombat, executive director of the group, suggested transgender students who are sexually abused take advantage of the Gender Equality Act as a legal instrument to fight for their rights. There was no word to hand on whether Ammy plans to lay a complaint.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Higher Education Commission (Ohec) said students are under no obligation to attend such rituals, and has laid down guidelines.

It says activities organised for student initiation rites must be acceptable in a moral sense and in keeping with the culture of society. They also bar activities which can lead to harassment of freshmen "both physically and mentally".

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