Rapists get 'No.1 enemy' tag
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Rapists get 'No.1 enemy' tag

Sex crimes rising and closer to home than ever

Activists hand out campaign stickers to passers-by to raise awareness about the social stigma and psychological scars caused by sexual violence in Bangkok. (File photo)
Activists hand out campaign stickers to passers-by to raise awareness about the social stigma and psychological scars caused by sexual violence in Bangkok. (File photo)

The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has identified rapists as the "No.1 public enemy", as part of its bid to reduce the incidence of the crime whose frequency has been rising to alarming levels across the country.

CSD chief Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said that according to a survey carried out by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) in 2017, society views rape as a crime that needs to be urgently addressed, followed by murders and insurgency-based violence in the three southernmost provinces.

According to Nida's survey, about 34% out of the 1,250 respondents polled nationwide wanted authorities to crack down on rapes and sexual assaults, while 24% of those polled said reducing the murder rate should be the the priority. Meanwhile, 15.5% of respondents believed security officials should be focusing on solving the unrest in the South.

"The CSD wasn't driven to action because of the opinion poll alone, but also because various research and studies conducted across the globe have concluded that rapists pose a considerable danger to socie­ty as they are more likely to recommit the offence," he said.

According to statistics, the number of rape cases dropped from 3,240 in 2015 to 2,109 in 2016, but figures cited by the Royal Thai Police showed a significant rise to 2,535 in 2017.

CSD chief Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej

The CSD chief said that the latest increase warrants special attention because the motives and victims have changed significantly.

"Previously, most rapes were carried out spontaneously by lust-driven men who preyed on unsuspecting women," he said.

These days, he continued, many of the victims are underage, with one recent case involving a child only four years old.

"The perpetrators' backgrounds are also a lot more varied, as shown by a recent case where the suspect was a 74-year-old monk," he said.

According to a CSD case report dated March 12, the monk -- whose name was not revealed -- saw his victim playing at a temple compound and decided to lure her to come with him before raping her.

Another shocking aspect is that many rapists are closely acquainted with their victims -- in fact, some rapes are carried out by friends and family members, Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop said.

"The pattern has changed. Victims who were raped by complete strangers account only for one-fifth of all cases now," he said.

At present, 10 rape cases that have been given an even more serious classification by the CSD involve victims who are aged between four and 15.

In one of the cases, the suspect -- identified as Somphong Chithan -- raped his 12-year-old niece for two years before he was arrested on Oct 25 last year, said Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop.

Another involves a mother, Ratri Kaeosi, who forced her daughter to have sex with her stepfather, Somphon Noppharat. The couple were arrested on Dec 24 last year.

According to Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop, rapists generally employ two kinds of tactics -- they either lure their victims through persuasion or by force and the threat of further violence or even murder.

"Rape cases where the victims fell for their rapist's persuasive manipulation are often harder to investigate because the victims are more likely to remain silent," he said.

As such, Pol Maj Gen advises the public to be more aware of their surroundings, and learn about self-defence tactics because officers may take time to reach the scene of a crime.

The CSD is also warning online dating application users to be careful as many rapists have been found to use social media channels to scout potential targets and groom their victims.

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