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Asia

Violence against Thai women escalating

Domestic violence is on the rise in Thailand despite government efforts to protect women. Experts say it is crucial to change men's behavior to reduce the levels of violence.

Last month, Surang Duangchinda, a 72-year-old woman, admitted to murdering her son-in-law, a former Olympic sharpshooter. The lady said her son-in-law had abused her daughter for years. Surang said she had acted alone in the murder of the 40-year-old Jakkirt Panichpatikum.

"I killed my son-in-law because he used to beat up my daughter over and over again, and I had forgiven him many times. But his behavior didn't change," Surang told the media after surrendering to authorities.

"I didn't want my daughter to die so I decided to hire a gunman to kill him (Jakkirt Panichpatikum)," she said. "I am sorry for my act but I'm old and I didn't know how long I could protect my only daughter."

Fear and violence

According to Thailand's Mahidol University's National Institute for Child and Family Development, a number of social and economic factors are responsible for an alarming increase in domestic violence in the South-East Asian country. A 2012 survey by the Institute showed domestic violence in Thailand increased with 30.8 percent of households reporting abuse. Rates of divorce also raised sharply from 10.8 percent in 2009 to 33 per cent in 2012.

One Billion Rising 2013

Violence against women has also increased in other Asian countries

Jaded Chouwilai, director of the rights group Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, says many victims opt to remain silent.

"When a woman faces violence in her home, she usually does not report it out of fear. She fears her children will face the brunt," Jaded told DW.

A woman named Suphaksorn turned to Jaded's Foundation for support after being abused by her former boyfriend. She told DW that her ex-boyfriend got married to another woman and when she wanted to end their relationship, the guy became aggressive.

"He brought a gun to my office and threatened to kill me if I didn't behave normally," Suphaksorn said. "After that, things turn abusive - he would smack me and bang my head against the wall, against the bed. He also tried to stab me," she added.

Social attitudes

James Lang, head of Partners for Prevention organization, says social conditioning and upbringing are factors that encourage men to be violent.

"Men are taught to be macho and assert their dominance over women," Lang told DW. "They are conditioned to believe that they have the right to control women and their bodies."

But Lang believes men's attitudes can be changed. "They should be exposed to peaceful and healthy ways to engage with women in relationships and in their lives," he said.

According to Father Joe Maier, a Catholic priest who works with the Bangkok Klong ToeyIn slum people, in many cases of violence against women, people tend to blame the victims.

"We live in a very conservative and brainwashed society," Father Maier told DW. He tells that at times the elderly women of the family accuse the victim of being "immoral" and put the responsibility of the violence on the girl.

For his part, Jaded says the Thai government needs to implement "mechanisms" urgently to change men's behaviour and reduce the levels of domestic violence.