BANGKOK – The National Legislative Assembly resolved on Friday to endorse, in principle, the draft bill for amendment of the part of the Criminal Code that addresses offenses relating to the molestation of minors.
The NLA voted 172 to 1 to endorse the draft bill, in principle. The amendment was proposed by the Cabinet of Ministers, with the reason that the Criminal Code has been in use for 57 years, and amendments are therefore needed to make the Code more appropriate. Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krua-ngam pointed out that the draft bill had already been endorsed by the previous House of Representatives.
The amendment addresses the fact that molesters of children aged above 13 but below 15 have been able to receive a penalty waiver if the offender marries the victim. This gave rise to forced marriages between the victim and the offender. The amendment also means that molesters of children aged under 13 years will no longer be able to claim they did not have knowledge of the child’s age when the crime was committed.
A large number of NLA members expressed their concern over the draft bill, citing the part involving the penalty waiver for young offenders who marry the victim. The NLA members said this waiver forces youngsters to marry, and will unavoidably result in unwanted pregnancies. – NNT