03/07/2016, 19.49

Thai Bishop: action against violence against women, for women’s rights and freedom

Weena Kowitwanij

On the eve of International Women's Day, Mgr Philip Banchong Chaiyara slams the “double standard" that continues to victimise women. In recent years, violence against women has been rising in the family and society. Confinement, beatings, and rape are the most widespread forms of abuse. The prelate also calls on women to make the most of “their abilities”.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – In today's world, and in Thai society in particular, “women are still victims of a double standard" in terms of treatment, both in the family and the workplace. They also have to “face the problem of direct and indirect violence,” said Mgr Philip Banchong Chaiyara, head of the Social Ministries Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, in a message for International Women's Day, which is celebrated tomorrow around the world.

In his statement, which he sent to AsiaNews, the prelate said that women face a life of oppression, violation and abuse at work and in the home. Hence, he insisted on the need to breathe new life in the struggle for equal rights and individual freedoms.

Every year, International Women's Day highlights the ongoing battle for equality between men and women, women's dignity, and the fight against the abuses and inequalities that persist in many societies in the world, including Thailand.

When it comes to women, a “double standard” prevails in the Asian country, with violence taking “direct and indirect” forms. In fact, recent studies show that violence against women and girls continues to rise in Thailand.

Last year, the Bangkok Business published the results of a study that found that acts of violence against women rose from 27,000 to more than 30,000 over the previous year, including 19,000 under age and 12,000 adults. In the case of violence against children, 90 per cent involves girls aged between 10-15 years.

The most common form of abuse is physical violence such forced confinement, forced labour and beating.  The second most common abuse is sexual violence, including rape and sexual harassment.

Despite the ongoing struggle, like in many other parts of the world, Thai society remains male-dominated in which women are oppressed and suffer from various forms of violence. This is why the pope’s words for World Day for Peace, and his statements against violence and abuse, including against women, are that more significant.

In his Encyclical Laudato si’, Francis says that Mother Earth is our “sister" and condemns the violence that men inflict upon it. Echoing Saint Francis, the Holy Father says that our big sister is weeping for the “damage we have done;” for this reason, he calls for greater attention to environmental issues.

Like the earth, women must be defended and protected. Stressing Women's Day and the Jubilee of Mercy, Mgr Philip Banchong Chaiyara calls on our "brothers and sisters to be treated with kindness and a sense of forgiveness."

The prelate reiterated the value of women’s dignity and love for the land and its creatures. "May all women be proud of their dignity and perform their duties at their best, making the most of their abilities. May the Virgin Mary take care of all women.”

Most Thais are Buddhist (95 per cent). About 3 per cent are Muslim; 0.5 per cent are Christian (evenly split between Protestants and Catholics). The rest belong to smaller faith groups.

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