Thailand’s Education Ministry updated its Child Protection Act 2003, on August 30 2019, in an attempt to curb sexual harassment against girls. The act saw several amendments being added to the requirements of student school uniform.
The amendment now states that it’s illegal for school girls to dress “inappropriately”. Uniforms that feature short school skirts and tight blouses are considered inappropriate and thus have been banned.
Nataphol Teepsuwan, the newly appointed Thai Education Minister, brought in the amendment in a hope to discourage a rising trend of “sexually suggestive behaviour and attire”.
There are concerns arising surrounding the legal language which was published because it comes across as vague. However, the amendments made seem to suggest that it is targeted at female students, who previously have been known to alter their school attire.
School Uniforms Should be Worn in an Orderly Fashion
The amendments specify that school uniforms should be worn in an orderly fashion, and that obscene attire is prohibited. Although, the amendment fails to specify what obscene attire is.
In an effort to better protect children in education, the amendment also prohibits sexually suggestive behaviour by school students. Failure to obey these updated laws will result in the parents or guardians of the student facing a fine of up to 30,000 baht and even jail time of three months.
This is the first update to the Child Protection Act since 2005. Mr Teepsuwan stated that the new regulations were appropriate to allow for a more modern age and society.
“In Mexico, amendments have also been made in regards to school attire. However, the amendments allow students more freedom to choose what they want to wear for school.
Students Rally to Abolish Strict Uniforms
This is completely the opposite of what Thailand has introduced, however, there are several other countries including Wales and Taiwan, who have introduced similar Child Protection Act amendments to Mexico.” says Juana Casto, a spokesperson from Reviewbox.
Casto is not wrong, recently a high school in Taiwan became the first in Asia to allow students to choose their own school uniforms. The policy allows boys to wear school skirts as part of their uniform if they want and the girls to wear pants.
The amendments made to Thailand’s Child Protection Act was all with good intentions, in an effort to limit cases of sexual harassment.
However, it was also pointed out that the act itself now blames girls for wearing what is perceived as sexy attire. This can create other difficult situations because it reinforces an idea that women are to blame for sexual harassment and assaults if they wear clothing which is considered sexy.
Victim-shaming such as placing blame at women’s feet for the clothes they wear and the sexual harassment experienced can be very damaging for society, especially in socially conservative Thailand.
A few months ago, prominent Democrat politician, Millika Boonmeetrakool Mahasook, suggested that Thailand’s Education Ministry should enforce new rules whereby students aren’t required to wear school uniforms. Mahasook believes that this will help to relieve the financial burden of parents.