Authorities are being urged to do better in protecting victims of domestic violence after figures indicate the problem is getting worse.
Angkhana Intasa, a gender equality advocate working with the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation (WMP), said domestic violence has reached a critical point where existing mechanisms are inadequate to deal with the problem.
“The situation is way too much to handle by using same old methods. We need to work harder by launching a campaign to raise awareness that domestic violence isn’t a private affair,” Ms Angkhana told a seminar on domestic violence organised by WMP and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).
Local communities, she said, must be included in a campaign to promote awareness about the problem.
Domestic Violence on the Rise
One of factors that allows domestic violence to thrive is people’s attitudes. “Some victims do not seek help because the issue is widely dismissed as a family affair. This must change. Community leaders must be trained to spot potential problems and help victims,” she told the Bangkok Post.
According to the WMP, domestic violence in 2018 rose by 35.4%, compared with 2016. Of 623 cases of reported domestic violence in 2018, 384 involved fatal assaults.
Ussa Lertsrisanthad, director of the Foundation for Women, said the situation reflected problems with the system in handling domestic violence.
The law also needed work and she urged the government to revise the 2019 Family Development and Protection Act. This new law — promulgated in the Royal Gazette on May 22 but recently deferred after problems were identified. It was not realistic and it will also undermine the family institution, she said.
This law treats domestic violence as a crime and makes parents subject to severe penalties such as being jailed. It also seeks to hand the powers to investigate domestic violence over to officials attached to the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, whom critics say lack the required expertise.
Anukul Peedkaew, deputy chief of the Department of Children and Youth, said families should be guided to seek help from the courts. He said victims can ask the family courts to issue restraining orders. This would prevent abusers from having contact with their victims.
Family courts can also be asked to order abusers to seek professional assistance or undergo rehabilitation, he said.