Poll: Half of female revellers groped during Songkran

Poll: Half of female revellers groped during Songkran

A Songkran reveller's face is daubed with talcum powder on Silom Road during Songkran festival in 2010. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A Songkran reveller's face is daubed with talcum powder on Silom Road during Songkran festival in 2010. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Just over half of the women and young girls surveyed complained they had been sexually harrassed during past Thai New Year water festivals, it was revealed at the launch of a "Happy Songkran" safety campaign on Tuesday.

The survey involved 1,793 people, aged 10-40, in Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Amnat Charoen, Chumphon, Chon Buri and Khon Kaen, said Charee Srisawat, of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation.

It found that 51.9% of the respondents said they had been sexually harassed by drunken men taking part in Songkran celebrations,

The big majority of the respondents, about 86%, said they disliked the sexual harassment and wanted  steps taken to stop it. The remaining 14% felt it was normal and that such behaviour was acceptable, said Ms Charee.

The majority wanted wanted authorities to seriously enforce the law and address the problem during the festival. Booths could be set up at festival venues to receive public complaints of sexual harassment and safe areas could be designated, the activist said.

She urged people to celebrate Songkran in a constructive way. The survey clearly showed that most women saw sexual harassment during the festival as unacceptable, Ms Charee said. Men should respect the rights of women regarding body touching.

Ms Charee revealed the results of the survey during an activity on Tuesday organised by the foundation, the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s children and women welfare sub-division, and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) to campaign for safety during the festival under the theme, "Happy Songkran….no alcohol, no sexual harassment and no violence.’’

Punika Apirakkraisri, of Thammasat Unversity’s Lampang centre, said the poll showed the Songkran festival had became a platform for sexual harassment and that some people saw such acts as normal. She pointed to the 14% of respondents who said being groped was acceptable.

A 24-year-old Bangkok woman said she had been sexually harassed by a group of male youths during the festival. They had thrown water at her and some of them put talcum powder on her face, and used this opportunity to touch her breasts and further down her body. She shouted for help and scolded her attackers.

However, the youths clearly did not feel any guilt, the woman said.


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