Future section

MEETINGS 2005


261st Meeting - Tuesday, April 19th 2005

"Violence in Thai Society"

A talk and presentation by Dr. Sombat Thapanya, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University

Present: Richard Nelson-Jones, David Engel, Keith Carroll, Louis Gabaude, Bodil Blokker, Barbara Tyrell, Meredith Wyse, Narumol Thammapruksa, Dianne Barber-Riley, Mark Barber-Riley, Alain Couderc, Mathew Oddie, Roxanne Oddie, Carol Kersten, John Cadet, Thomas Ohlson, Alex Osterwalder, Gildas Poissonnier. An audience of 18.

Summary of the talk: This summary of Dr. Sombat's talk is based on his PowerPoint presentation. Notes in parentheses have been added by your convenor, who was at the meeting and listened most attentively.

1. VARIOUS TYPES OF VIOLENCE (FROM WHO'S WORLD REPORT ON VIOLENCE AND
HEALTH 2002)

1.1. Collective violence (Large scale violence: state against state wars, civil wars, etc.)
1.2. Family violence
1.3. Intimate partners violence (intimate partners includes male/female, male/male, female/female relationships, married or otherwise.)
1.4. Child abuse: physical, psychological, sexual, neglect
1.5. Elderly abuse (The number of elderly people in society is increasing, a phenomenon which for some families is experienced as an unsustainable financial burden. A fifth of the world's population exists on less than $1 a day.)
1.6. Sexual violence: acquaintance rape / date rape, gang rape, sexual assault / harassment
1.7. Youth violence
1.8. Self-directed violence (Most commonly suicide.)

2. THREE LEVELS OF VIOLENCE

2.1. Direct violence: interpersonal
2.2. Structural violence: political, economic measures (Many people would include Globalization in this category)
2.3. Cultural violence: beliefs & values -> practices

3. STATISTICS OF INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE

3.1. Violence kills more than 1.6 million people every year - the tip of the iceberg
3.2. Millions of people are left injured as a result of violence and suffer from physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems
3.3. On an average day, 1,424 people are killed in acts of homicide. Almost one person every minute
3.4. Roughly one person commits suicide every 40 seconds
3.5. About 35 people are killed every hour as a direct result of armed conflict
3.6. In the 20th century, an estimated 191 million people lost their lives directly or indirectly as a result of conflict
3.7. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15-44 years of age accounting for 14% of deaths among males and 7% of deaths among females

4. THREE MAJOR AREAS FOR THIS PRESENTATION: CHILD ABUSE (4.1); YOUTH
VIOLENCE (4.2); DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (4.3)

4.1. Child Abuse and Neglect

4.1.1. Organizations

4.1.1.1. The Center for the Protection of Children's Rights (CPCR) - Bangkok: Repeated traumatization through helping process (Dr. Sombat said that professionals were now coming to realize that the present system which requires a victim, usually a child or a woman, to repeat the account of the details of their abuse to a policeman, nurse, doctor, psychiatrist, social worker, lawyer, judge, etc. was deepening the effects of the trauma and jeopardizing the victims chances of recovering from their abuse.)

4.1.1.2. The Chiang Mai Coordinating Center for the Protection of Children's & Women's Rights

4.1.2. Possible contributing factors

4.1.2.1. Family
4.1.2.2. Community
4.1.2.3. Educational system
4.1.2.4. Culture of war/violence: particularly in relation to youth violence: ('Culture of war' was the term Dr. Sombat used to describe a society that, through movies, TV, newspapers, cartoon books, songs, etc., promotes the attitude that violence is acceptable, and the first, and possibly the only choice to settle a disagreement or perceived injustice.
By promoting this attitude the perpetrators of violence are elevated to the status of hero/heroine role models, e.g. Rambo, Beatrice Kiddo in 'Kill Bill', any number of rich young yuppies in Thai soap operas, etc., and always with the unspoken but understood belief that if you are the 'good' guy/girl violence is morally justifiable. One reason perhaps why 'war crimes' are only committed by the people who lost the war.)

4.1.3. Possible solutions

4.1.3.1. Prevention strategies

4.1.3.1.1. Family level
4.1.3.1.2. Community level
4.1.3.1.3. School level
4.1.3.1.4. Legal system: prohibition of corporal punishment, child
protection law

4.1.3.2. Protection efforts

4.1.3.2.1. Prosecution
4.1.3.2.2. Treatment & rehabilitation of survivors

4.1.3.3. The 2003 Child Protection Law

4.1.3.3.1. The Minimum Standard Of Child Care
4.1.3.3.2. The Risks Indicators

4.2. Youth Violence

4.2.1. Concerns

4.2.1.1. Gang violence
4.2.1.2. Vocational schools student violence (In response to a question from a member of the audience, Dr. Sombat said that the reason(s) why violence occurred between vocational school students, and not between secondary school or university students, was under investigation but no definitive cause had, as yet, been discovered. There is much professional conjecture on the issue but no hard facts. One theory suggests that, as students in a given vocational school are more likely to come from a common locale, they are more likely to develop a unified identity in relation to vocational schools in other areas. The de facto establishment and cohesiveness of this entity is most effectively achieved through the 'in-group / out-group' system of gang warfare.)
4.2.1.3. Sexual violence: harassment, assault, gang rape
4.2.1.4. Drugs and alcohol

4.2.2. Possible contributing factors

4.2.2.1. Family
4.2.2.2. Community
4.2.2.3. Urbanization
4.2.2.4. Educational system
4.2.2.5. Culture of war/violence

4.2.3. Possible solutions

4.2.3.1. Family
4.2.3.2. Community
4.2.3.3. Educational system
4.2.3.4. Culture of peace ('Culture of peace', Dr. Sombat explained, is a society in which violence, in any form, is not tolerated. Alternative non-violent strategies are promoted as the first, and the only choice for settling disagreements or perceived injustices. In a 'Culture of peace' society hero/ heroine role models would be those who promoted and achieved their goals through non-violent means, e.g. Gandhi, Ong San Su Kyi, Kofi
Annan, the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, etc. In such a society, acts of violence would never be considered morally justifiable.)

4.2.4. Action plans

4.2.4.1. Committee on Youth Violence
4.2.4.1.1. National level
4.2.4.1.2. Provincial level
4.2.4.2. Independent efforts
4.2.4.2.1. Workshop / training
4.2.4.2.2. Research projects

4.3. Domestic Violence

4.3.1. Statistics for domestic violence taken from 5 Thai newspapers. Compiled by the Women's Foundation.

Type of violence 2000 2001 2002 2003 Total
Husband assaults wife
17
20
23
4
64
Husband kills wife
30
60
57
61
208
Husband having affair
8
7
8
-
23
Husband not providing child support
3
4
1
-
8
Wife kills husband
13
19
24
27
83
Wife commits suicide
2
9
6
6
32
Mother kills children
6
9
6
6
27
Father kills children
4
13
10
2
29
Wife castrates husband
1
-
1
1
3
Other acts of violence
-
6
25
70
101
Annual total
84
184
163
184
578

4.3.2. Concerns

4.3.2.1. High profile cases
4.3.2.2. High incidents
4.3.2.3. Advances in women's rights movement
4.3.2.4. Feminists advocates

4.3.3. Possible contributing factors

4.3.3.1. Traditional beliefs/values
4.3.3.2. Men-dominated society / culture
4.3.3.3. Traditional role of Thai women (A common factor in the above three possible contributing factors, and one that makes the causes of domestic violence in Thailand, and possibly most of Asia, different to other countries is the cultural attitude of Thai men that their women and children are their chattels, they own them as they do a buffalo, a plough, a house or a car. It is not so long ago in Thai history that wives and
children, and second wives, were used to settle debts, particularly gambling debts. It is still the case in some parts of Thailand that it is socially acceptable for parents to sell their children into brothels and sweat shops. Legislators pass laws to protect the rights of women and children, but to change a way of thinking so deeply ingrained in a
country's history will take generations.)
4.3.3.4. Culture of violence (In this context it also includes the notion that domestic violence is a private matter and not one in which the authorities i.e. the police, extended family members or neighbours should intervene. The way a man treats his 'property' is his own affair.)
4.3.3.5. Alcohol

4.3.4. Possible solutions

4.3.4.1. Law against domestic violence
4.3.4.2. Victim support and advocacy
4.3.4.3. Public education
4.3.4.4. Children / school system

5. WHO RECOMMENDATIONS:

5.1. Preschool and social development programs for children and adolescents
5.2. Parent training and support programs and
5.3. Measures to reduce firearm injuries and improve firearm safety.
5.4. Strengthening responses for victims of violence
5.5. Promoting adherence to international treaties and laws
5.6. Improving data collection on violence

After an extended question and answer session, the meeting adjourned to the Alliance Cafeteria where members of the audience engaged Dr. Sombat in more informal discussion over drinks and snacks.

<< Back to Meeting Diary