First came Thailand’s coronavirus lockdown, then devastating recession. Next came the wife-beating. And killing.
Reported cases of domestic violence in Thailand have increased 66 percent nationwide since March when the pandemic triggered a four-month nationwide shutdown, including months of curfew, according to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.
In just the first seven months of this year, there were 367 reported cases of domestic violence, with 242 of them resulting in the death of the victim.
“The current situation is like a war in which killings easily erupt. Death is the result, but the government is too passive to act,” said Chaowilai, director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation.
A foundation survey found the rate of domestic violence in Bangkok has grown by a quarter this year over 20219, while it has surged by nearly half in the South.
The foundation attributes these increases to higher rates of alcoholism and substance abuse driven by lower household incomes as the economy tanked as the government kept borders effectively closed to tourists and foreign businesspeople.
The findings are especially troubling as Thailand had one of the world’s worst domestic-violence problems. The United Nations lists the kingdom as one of 38 countries with the highest rates of domestic violence against women. Year-in and year-out, an average of four cases of domestic violence against women have been reported every day.
“The home, which should be a safe place for women and children, can be a terrifying place where they are subjected to beatings and verbal abuse,” Kannikar Charoenluck, director of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security’s gender equality promotion division, said.
The fact that 66 percent of all reported cases involve murders is particularly shocking. In 2018, the percentage was “only” 48.5 percent.
“Alcohol consumption and drug abuse are key factors in the murder of family members,” Jadej said, adding that Thai men most often are driven to murderous rage by jealousy and money problems.
Troublingly, many Thais who witness instances of domestic violence do nothing about it, still viewing it as a “private matter”, Angkhana said.
A longer, unedited version of this story appears in UCA News, a Bangkok Herald partner.