Domestic violence reports soar in 2019

Domestic violence reports soar in 2019

Advocates say agencies are too 'slow to react'

SPEAKING OUT: The Department of Women's Affairs and Family Development raises awareness on the surge in domestic violence on Silom Road. Thirty-three people have already died over the past two weeks from domestic violence-related issues.
SPEAKING OUT: The Department of Women's Affairs and Family Development raises awareness on the surge in domestic violence on Silom Road. Thirty-three people have already died over the past two weeks from domestic violence-related issues.

Just over two weeks after the new year began, reports of domestic violence doubled from the rate of the same period last year. However, rights advocates say agencies in charge of handling the problem are slow to react and tend to view it as merely a family issue.

Since Jan 1, there have been 28 reports of domestic violence-related deaths, resulting in 33 deaths, compared with only 10 in the same period last year, according to information presented at the "From Family Problems to Killing" seminar held on Thursday by the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation.

Twenty of the reports were family-related killings, followed by four suicides as a result of domestic issues and four severe physical attacks. About half of the cases involved gun use.

"The trend is shocking," said Jadej Chaowilai, director of the foundation. "I have been warning of the unusual rise in domestic violence since last year but it has appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.

"The current situation is like a war in which killings easily erupt. Death is the result, but the government is too passive to act."

Police officers are among the state authorities that must become more alert to the violence. They tend not to adopt decisive solutions even if they receive complaints.

Officers prefer "reconciling" to enforcing laws in a brawl, Mr Jadej said.

"But this leniency leads to a detrimental effect, emboldening persons with aggressive behaviour to act more violently," he said.

Subsequent physical attacks can easily follow and they don't all necessarily result from severe troubles, he said. Up to 41% of the 28 violence-related cases were simply sparked by jealousy, Mr Jadej said.

A man could easily resort to a deadly attack just because his girlfriend denies his attempts to restore their relationship, he said.

Alcohol and drugs also cannot be overlooked as causes of severe quarrels. Substances contributed to 21% of these cases, according to the foundation.

A seminar participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said alcohol intensified rogue behaviour, referring to his quarrelsome step-grandfather whom he killed during a family dispute.

After the incident, which erupted during his childhood, he was detained at the state-run Ban Kanchanaphisek remand home for children.

The man claimed he only threatened his step-grandfather with a knife to stop him from injuring his grandmother. It is not clear how he ended up dead.

His grandfather often drank and became violent, beating his grandmother and other family members.

"Everyone in the family knew he [the step-grandfather] could easily turn violent," the man recalled.

"He treated us badly. He was easily upset and quick to act violently. Even the way I walked could provoke him."

He said his neighbours knew how abusive his grandfather was but everyone chose to maintain their distance.

Silent neighbours also encourage domestic violence, said Mr Jadej.

"People who witness this type of violence tend not to get involved, so the government needs to lead efforts to curb them [abusers]," he said.

Mr Jadej suggested that the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security set up a specific agency, or a "war room", to observe and analyse the problems that occur in every area.

It must work closely with police and officials from the Interior Ministry to ensure that help can be given immediately to prevent losses, he said.

People should change their attitudes toward family violence which is often viewed as a private matter. "Everyone must help," Mr Jadej said.

"They can do it by quickly informing government or non-government agencies when they spot [violent] events."

Violent behaviour is noticeable and 90% of it stems from people close to the victims, Mr Jadej said.

Putting a long-term end to this problem requires much greater efforts. Family violence is a "structural problem", which concerns some questionable and biased values in a society, Mr Jadej added.

Women are more prone to rights infringements and often become victims of violence in a society which believes men have a bigger voice. Mr Jadej said this does not mean husbands can harm or do unacceptable things to their wives.

"Women are not assets of men," he added.

Pol Col Phadet Phubup of the Royal Thai Police's Office of Legal Affairs and Litigation, said he is also worried over media reports of family violence.

It is true media crews are granted the right to inform the public of violent behaviour, but they need to be aware of its impact on victims. One case involved an uncle who was accused of raping his niece.

Though news reports did not mention the girl's identity, her grandmother's name was revealed.

This was enough information to help the girl's teacher identify her, and eventually her friends knew about the issue, Pol Col Phadet said.

The girl was "so hurt that she did not want to study", he said.

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