Thailands policies and initiatives on the prevention of violence against women

  1. Institutional Framework
  • Within the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, one department, one office, one bureau and one centre have direct authority and function in dealing with VAW issues. These are: the Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW); the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development (OWAFD); the Bureau of Anti-Trafficking in Women and Children (BATWC) which is under DSDW; and the Operation Centre for the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence which is under OWADFThe centres mandates are to: 1) provide immediate services for domestic violence victims; 2) coordinate, support and follow-up the practice of temporary protective orders;3) coordinate with concerned officer/court regarding case settlement;4) coordinate with local networks and administrative authorities and 5) collect data and information on domestic violence and report to the OWAFD.
  • Within the Ministry of Public Health, the Bureau of Health Systems Development Department has been established to oversee information systems of some 300 hospital-based One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) units. The centres provide physical and mental treatments, legal assistance, and recovery and rehabilitation with multidisciplinary teams to help women victims from all forms of violence.
  • Within the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Prevention and Suppression of Crimes Concerning with Women and Children has been established to handle cases of VAW. While the Department is based in the Office of the National Police in Bangkok, the officers, which include female interrogators/policewomen, may be expected to go to the place whereby the case of VAW occurs in order to assist the female/ young victims i.e. to during the interrogation and legal process. The Centre for  the  Protection of Children, Youth and Women was also established in the Royal Thai Police to provide assistance to children, youth and women who have been assaulted and sexually abused. This centre has adopted a more human-rights and victim-centred approach, taking  into  account  the  vulnerabilities of the victims and their best interests.
  • Within the Ministry of Justice, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department was established in 2002 to protect victims of human rights violation including victims of domestic violence.

II.  Legal Framework

  • The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E 2550 (2007) addresses the issues regarding violence against women in a number of its Sections as follows:

Section 30 : All persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law. Men and women shall enjoy equal rights.

Section 40. Every child, youth, woman or aging or disabled person shall have the right to appropriate protection in judicial process and shall have the right to appropriate treatment in case relating to sexual offences;

Section 52. Children, youth, women and family members shall have the right to be protected by the State against violence and unfair treatment and shall have the right to medical treatment or rehabilitation upon the occurrence thereof.

Section 81. The State shall act in compliance with the law and justice policies in providing support for the operation of private organizations rendering legal assistance to the public, especially the people who suffer from domestic violence.

Section 84. The State shall act in compliance with the economic policy in promoting people of working age to obtain employment, protecting child and woman labour, providing the system of labour relations and tripartism entitling labour to elect their representatives, providing social security and ensuring labour working at equal value to obtain wages, benefits and welfares upon fair and indiscriminate basis;

  • The Protection  of  Domestic Violence Victims Act B.E. 2550 (2007) addresses domestic violence, which is defined as any action intended to inflict harm on a family members physical, mental or health condition and any use of coercion or unethical domination to compel a family member to commit, omit or accept any unlawful act, except for that committed through negligence. The Act aims to protect family members including spouse, former spouse, ones who live and cohabit or used to do so as couple with or without marriage registration, biological child, adopted child, family members/ any dependant members who live in the same household.                                       The meaning of domestic violence contained in Article 3 of the Act includes both physical and mental violence experienced by the member of the family which covers all people who stay in the same household.  People who can file a complaint include not only victims but anybody who sees or has information about a domestic violence situation.  The Act states that it is a public duty of everyone to report on domestic violence. When a complaint is filed, the Act shortens the legal process that the police have to investigate the complaint immediately and the public prosecutor has to file the case before the court within 48 hrs.                                                                     Under Article 6 of the Act, while investigating the complaint, the police or state officer can enter the house or place of domestic violence which confirms that domestic violence is not a private matter. The Act emphasizes more on assistance than penalty measures by granting the court authority to assign rehabilitation, counseling, probation, public service, or parole to the offender in order to help maintain the status of family. The court can order the offender to pay compensation to the victim and/or prohibit the perpetrator from returning to the house or getting close contact with the victim. In case of a settlement, withdrawal of a complaint or case withdrawal, the Act permits the court or police officer to issue a memorandum between the victim and the offender, to prevent the latter from repeating the violence. The Act also protects victims and their family from additional mental suffering by prohibiting any disclosure of pictures and other identifying information to the public. Overall, the Act extensively addresses human rights of the victim as well as the welfare of the family.
  • The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act B.E. 2551 (2008) defines exploitation to cover sexual exploitation, pornography production/distribution, other forms of sexual exploitation, slavery, forced begging, forced labour, trade in organs, or other similar forms of exploitation regardless of consent being given or not. The Act includes the following key elements: 1) heavier penalties on all persons involved in human trafficking; 2) compensation which victims may claim from the offender for any damages caused by human trafficking; and 3) shelter and other necessities including physical, psycho-social, legal, educational, and  health care provided to victims.
  • The Criminal Code Amendment Act (No.19) B.E. 2550 (2007) expands the definition of rape to cover raping of people of all sexes, all types of sexual penetration, and criminalization of marital rape and imposes more severe penalties on offenders who engaged in all forms of rape and sexual abuses.
  • The Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act B.E. 2550 (2007) suspends imprisonment sentence imposed on an offender who is pregnant or raising a child under the age of 3 and confines pregnant offenders or offenders with children under 3 years old in a suitable place other than prisons during a period of suspension.

III.  Policy Framework

  • The Thai Womens Development Plan in the 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan B.E. 2550  2554 (2007 2011), adopted in 2007, has addressed violence against women in its 4th strategy: Enhancing the security for womens life and body. The objective is that women shall not live their life with fear of violence, and that their rights to life and physical safety be protected. The forms of violence addressed include domestic violence, community violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, and human trafficking. Moreover, the 1st strategy : Promoting the attitude toward gender equality and the 3rd strategy :  Promoting the right to reproductive health can also be seen as preventive measures against VAW.
  • The 10th National Health Development Plan in the 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan B.E. 2550  2554 (2007  2011), adopted in 2007, has addressed widespread violence, including violence against women at all levels as one of its major concerns.  The forms of violence addressed include domestic violence, sexual harassment in the family, school and in the workplace. The 4th strategy aims at raising awareness on sexual and reproductive health on gender equality basis.
  • The Ministry of Justice and concerned government agencies are developing The Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice according to The Thai Womens Development Plan in the 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan B.E. 2550  2554 (2007  2011) in section 7.1.3: to revise, develop and modify laws related to all form of discrimination against women 
  • The Cabinet adopted two resolutions pertaining to violence against women. The first was the Resolution on the 8 Measures for the Elimination of Violence against Women issued on 29 June 1999 proposed by the non-governmental organizations and the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development as the national womens machinery. The measures which aim at protecting women from violence in both domestic and public settings include, among others, suppression of pornography, improvement of sex education and services for victims of violence, notably by means of speeding up the nation-wide establishment of One Stop Crisis Centres (OSCCs) in the hospitals. The second was the Resolution on the Policies and Plan for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children issued on 16 May 2000, which provided for a master plan of action for prevention from and protection against violence on women and children.
  • At the local level, the Committee on Women Development has been set up at the provincial level since 1995. Such committees have developed programmes and activities to deal with VAW issues in their provincial/district/village areas. However, there are four common policies which have been implemented at the provincial level. Those include the extension of medical service for women and children in crisis at public hospitals, justice and social welfare for those in need, and the promotion of public awareness on VAW issues especially domestic violence and trafficking in persons.

IV. Multidisciplinary Framework

  • The One Stop Crisis Centre or OSCC, is a multidisciplinary unit that provides comprehensive services for victims of violence in Thailand. Based in hospitals, the centre is equipped not only with medical doctors and nurses, but also representatives from the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Attorney-General, NGOs, emergency shelters, and from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. As a result, victims will get access to immediate services and assistance. An OSCC usually assumes multifunctional roles. The centre receives reported cases of VAW, and coordinates with other units (e.g. police stations, courts or relevant ministries) if need be.  Additionally, some OSCCs  provide VAW information, mental supports and advice along with the physical treatments. The counseling and psychological care, free medical and healthcare services, as well as free legal advice and referrals are also available at the OSCCs.  At present, there are approximately 108 OSCCs in Thailand.
  • NGO Networks play an important role in protecting and assisting children and women who are victims of all forms of violence. These NGOs include, inter alia, the Friends of Women Foundation, the Hotline Centre Foundation, the Family Network Foundation, the Child Rights Protection Foundation, the Network to Stop Violence Against Women Foundation and the Association of the Promotion of the Status of Women. Those NGOs have worked hand in hand with the state agencies in the protection and prevention of violence against women, a multi-stakeholder partnership that has been proven over time to be very effective in combating violence against women in Thailand. The examples of such cooperation are the development of on-line database of VAW at http://www.violence.in.th , the organizing of national, regional and provincial seminars on VAW-related topics, and the promotion of national campaign on VAW by setting November as the Campaign Month for Ending Violence against Women and Sunday as Family Day Campaign.
  •  Family Networks in Community: These networks are aimed at surveillance,prevention and correction of domestic violence amongst local communities. They have also formed learning and awareness-building centres managed by the community with support from government and local administrative organizations. At present, 3166 networks have been set up throughout the country.
  • Community-based Family Development Centres: These centres have been set up as a mechanism for monitoring and providing consultation and solutions to family and social problems, including violence against women. The centres act as functional units co-developed by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security with support from the Sub-District Administration Organization, but run by the communities themselves for their own benefits. At present, there are more than 3,000 centres countrywide.

V. Assistance and Rehabilitation  

  • The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has established  the 24-hour hotline service also known as the Prachabodi Centre. The hotline telephone number is 1300. Located in Bangkok, the hotline centres principle functions is to receive report on cases of violence, then coordinate with the organizations/units concerned, notably the Department of Social Development and Welfare in Bangkok, and the Provincial Office of Social Development and Human Security in other provinces. The agencies will coordinate in directing the witnesses/victims/survivors of violence to appropriate services i.e. medical treatments, legal services or other forms of assistances. Moreover, the service is available for all victims of all forms of violence regardless of their nationalities. The availability of the hotline service is publicized through various media by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security e.g. television and radio spots, information leaflets, notebooks, document folders, T-shirts and bags distributed at meetings/ seminars hold by the Ministry.
  • The Department of Social Development and Welfare of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has established the free shelters called Emergency Home for Children and Family. The shelters are available in Bangkok and every province. Target groups include women and children who are victims of violence, sexual harassment, negligence, exploitation, orphans and women with unwanted pregnancy.
  • The Association for the Promotion of the Status of Woman has also established 3 Emergency Homes, which house more than 300 women. The target groups include women and children who are victims of domestic violence and women with unwanted pregnancy. Information on the emergency home is available at most hospitals and department stores whereby the associations donation box is located and through associated websites.
  • The Department of Social Development and Welfare of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has allocated an annual budget for rehabilitation/ empowerment programmes for women and children who are victims of violence at the Kredtrakarn Centre for Women and Girls Protection and Career Development, located in Nontaburi province. The Centre provides compulsory education for women and girls, as well as career training in various areas e.g. culinary skills, hospitality services, and production of handicrafts. (The training courses are regularly adapted according to the market demands and trends). Information about the service may be obtained from units/ offices of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the emergency homes, as well as the Ministrys website http://www.m-society.go.th The information is available in Thai and English and the Centre is opened for migrant women and girls from neighboring countries who are victims of human trafficking also.

VI. Guidelines/Protocols for law enforcement officers

  • For corrections officials, the Kamlangjai Project or INSPIRE was launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol in 2006 as guideline for the Department of Corrections under the Ministry of Justice in taking care of female inmates and their babies in correctional facilities nationwide. Building upon the Inspire Project, Thailand, under the guidance of the Princess, has launched an initiative to uplift the treatment of women prisoners to international standards by proposing the resolution on the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders, to be adopted by the UN General Assembly. Such initiative envisages the formulation and revision of prison and correctional management policies worldwide for the treatment of women prisoners. If endorsed by the Plenary session of the 65th session of the General Assembly in December 2010, not only women prisoners in Thailand but also those in correctional facilities around the world could benefit from this initiative known asBangkok Rules. The Ministry of Justice of Thailand is also planning to set up the Thailand Institute of Justice. This will serve as a platform to conduct training on the treatment of women prisoners in accordance with the Bangkok Rules, not only at national but also at international level.
  • For immigration officials, the Immigration Office has established rules and regulations or protocol that include such basic practices as: (1) segregating women and children from the men in temporary detention situations; (2) assigning female immigration officers to deal with cases involving women and children; and (3) setting aside provisions needed to attend to any special or particular health-related or medical concerns (i.e. pre-natal, post-natal care, childcare) for women and children.
  • For social workers, a collection of guidelines entitled The Guideline for Assisting Children and Women Who Are Victims of Violence has been co-developed by the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Health and the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for health professionals  i.e. doctors, nurses and social workers working in the One Stop Crisis Centres (OSCCs) all over the country since October 2003. The Guideline features flowcharts on steps for treating patients who are victims of violence, particularly women and children as follows: the guidelines and checklist to identify patients who are suspected to be victims of physical, mental and sexual violence; advice on self-protection i.e. how to prevent reoccurrences of violence for victims of violence, how to identify suspected perpetrators of violence, how to collect evidence for legal officers, and how to write a report on the mental and physical evaluation of women and children who are victims of violence; and coordination guidelines for multidisciplinary teams.
  • For police officials, the Royal Thai Police has initiated various programmes for its officials to develop proper attitudes towards gender sensitivity. Such programmes include the field training for police cadets with NGOs to gain better understanding of the VAW problem on the ground; the sending of police officials to conduct investigations of VAW cases at the hospital instead of waiting for victim to report the case at the police station; and the setting up of investigation rooms in hospitals nation-wide. Furthermore, the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development, in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Counseling, Thammasart University, has developed the mandatory training programmes with details on how to treat women and the girl child who are victims of violence specifically for officers, including police officers and prosecutors. 

VII. Awareness Raising

  • Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand, in her capacity as UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador in Thailand, launched the UNIFEM campaign to Say No to Violence against Women which will greatly help mobilize public support to end violence against women in Thailand. Through her efforts, public support for the battle to eliminate violence against women in Thailand is growing, with more than three million people, both women and men, signing up to the UN Development Fund for Women's (UNIFEM) 'Say No to Violence against Women' campaign, which she said is a vivid reflection of the Thai peoples determination to eliminate violence against women and girls. Meanwhile, Thailands nation-wide campaign, which is a part of the international campaign on Say No to Violence has promoted active participation at the national and provincial levels, which provide crucial basis for promoting effective cooperation for more substantive work to end violence against women. With the support of government agencies and civil society organizations, the campaign has used all sources of media to raise awareness of VAW throughout the year to which Her Royal Highness herself is the presenter of the campaign. It represents the synergy between multidisciplinary teams from all relevant sectors contributing to the increase of VAW awareness among the public.
  • The Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development, together with partner organizations, organizes an annual campaign each November as the Campaign Month for Ending Violence against Women, designating the 25th of November as the national Ending VAW day. The campaign is launched at the beginning of the month of November of every year, and is to be carried out throughout that month. The main message of the campaign is to promote public awareness of violence against women as a serious social problem in Thailand which renders detrimental effects on the family, community, as well as the society as a whole. The campaign addresses mainly the physical, mental and sexual violence against women and girls, especially those resulting from the lack of understanding and misconceptions of the society that violence is a private business so the community/ the society do not have any roles to play in assisting victims. The campaign has tried to instill new values and attitudes in society that domestic violence is no longer a husband-and-wife matter but it is a public duty of everyone to report on domestic violence should she/he witnesses such situation. The campaign used print media (handouts), radio and television spots and programmes, mobile exhibition, as well as public forums and seminars to raise the VAW awareness across the country.
  • As a part of the campaign on November as the Campaign Month for Ending Violence against Women, the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development and its partner organizations, including the media and the private sector has also launched the White Ribbon Campaign and the Gentlemen against VAW Campaign in order to engage men and boys in addressing violence against women. The campaigns, which are regularly launched in November every year, include  the collection of signatures, as well as the distribution of white ribbon necktie pins to men and boys, notably public figures such as the Prime Minister, politicians and celebrities, to put it on the shirt as a sign of commitment to end violence against women. The main message of the campaign is that men and boys can, and should play a part in the elimination of violence against women by Not Committing, Not Approving and Not Neglecting should violence against women happens.
  • The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand and the UN Country Team have launched the project  Every Home is a Safe Home: Supporting Thailand Towards Effective Implementation of Protection of Domestic Violence Victims Act,  B.E. 2550 (2007). The project aims at strengthening protection mechanism and support services for women and girls facing domestic violence. A well-coordinated and accountable multi-sectoral mechanism for the implementation of the Act is also one of the projects main objectives. Civil society organizations, particularly women NGOs, will play an important role in enhancing public awareness on the implementation of the Act as well as providing protection and rehabilitation for domestic violence victims.

VIII.  Data Collection

  • The Office of Womens Affairs and Family Development has conducted an annual nation-wide survey on violence against women entitled The Report on the Situation of Violence Against Women in Thailand. The survey is conducted annually, and the annual report is expected to be available by November of the following year. Data are partly contributed by the One Stop Crisis Centres all over the country, and partly by partner organizations e.g. the hotline services, emergency homes and NGOs working on violence against women. The forms of violence covered are physical, mental and sexual violence. Data is disaggregated by sex and age of the victims, the forms of violence, and the types of perpetrators (e.g. husbands, parents, intimates, cousins and others). The data collection effort is repeated on a regular basis by the data contributors i.e. OSCCs and the partner organizations who are requested to enter the data on-line through the website http://www.violence.in.th upon receiving cases of violence, or to submit a monthly report.
  • The Ministry of Public Health, through the One Stop Crisis Centres (OSCCs) located in most hospitals all over the country, has collected data on cases of violence against women i.e. regarding the forms of injuries and treatments, the average number of cases per day, etc. Information on the relationship between victims and perpetrators is also available. Data collection began in 2003, and has been regularly conducted and reported on an annual basis. The data collection contributes as a part of the Office of Womens Affairs and Family Developments survey on violence against women, and can be accessed through the on-line database at http://www.violence.in.th


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