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Workplace Abuse and Harassment Frequent in Government Offices



Many serious cases have taken place at government offices


BANGKOK – The mental distress suffered by victims of physical abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace is long-lasting and often permanent, and even in cases were injuries are evident, the penalties paid by violators are relatively small, experts said yesterday at a seminar at the National Human Rights Commission.

Bruises and small wounds subject attackers to only a one-month prison term and/or a fine of Bt1,000 (S$42.40), as such assaults are considered non-felonies as long as the injuries are considered “non-serious”, said Janthima Sawangkul, a public prosecutor.

Many serious cases have taken place at government offices. Abusive superiors should be subject to disciplinary actions, not only small fines, Janthima said, adding that the justice system provides insufficient protection and compensation to victims suffering from mental distress.

Wisa Benjamano, head of a NHRC committee on violations against vulnerable groups such as children and women, said there were 25,744 cases reported to the commission from 2010 through last year.

In the previous week alone, there were 1,340 cases reported – 122 involving abuse against women and children. The complaints include tip-offs about human trafficking and workplace discrimination, she added.

Although the number of abuse cases was not expected to increase significantly this year, the magnitude of violence in such cases was tending to be more severe, Wisa said without elaborating.

Suphensri Phuengkhoksoong, a senior official from the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, said abuse cases tended to be more frequent in government offices, and took on more various forms, including assault, molestation and even forced marriage. She called on the victims of such crimes to come forward.

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