Nearly half the victims of sex abuse who turned to the Friends of Women Foundation for help suffered at the hands of people close to them – friends, relatives or neighbours.
“A father, for example, sexually harassed his own 10-year-old daughter,” a foundation social worker Patcharee Junhirun said at a seminar yesterday.
The group held the seminar in collaboration with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation to try to raise awareness of sex crimes.
Last year, 775 abused women sought counselling from the foundation – 83 of them after sexual assaults. Seven of these victims were gang raped.
Many sex attackers blamed alcohol for the failure to control their desires, according to the Friends of Women Foundation.
“The youngest victim was just three years old, while the oldest attacker was 78,” Patcharee said.
Sexual attacks were clearly on the rise, she said. Last year, the number of victims coming to the foundation was 83, up 11 per cent compared to 2008.
Patcharee said 18 per cent of these sex abuse victims last year were harassed at work.
“Some employers drugged their workers or used guns to violate the victims,” the social worker said.
Some civil servants who were sexually-harassed spoke out about their ordeals and pursued both criminal and disciplinary complaints against their attackers. However, they were often regarded by colleagues as rebellious.
Assoc Prof Boonserm Hutabaedya, from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said failure to speak up would increase the risk of repeated attacks.
To ease the problem, Boonserm said all workplaces should review the risk of sexual harassment and set up a panel to receive complaints.
“There should be an independent organisation to handle such cases too, so that victims don’t have to be afraid of the attackers’ influence,” he said, “Clear punishment should also be laid down.”
Boonserm said there should be a database of sexual crimes so that people could examine the risks they faced and take action before it was ‘too late’.