Pilot project set up in Thailand to protect battered women and children

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

MORE than 23,977 Thai women and children have been the victims of violence so far this year, which amounts to an average of 66 people every day, said Dr Sophon Mekthon, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry.

Of these victims, 10,712 were children and 13,265 women, said Sophon, who was speaking yesterday on the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

He said the Public Health Ministry and the National Health Foundation (NHF) had developed a system for domestic-violence notification, screening and primary care for the abused.

Pilot coordination units have been set up in Tambon Health Promotion Hospitals in Rayong and Chumphon provinces to screen victims aged under 18, he said. The three most frequent issues were assaults, unwanted pregnancy and abandonment.

He said 2,270 young people had been selected for a joint care programme by schools and local administrative bodies.

Next year, the system will expand to other districts in the two aforementioned provinces and also Khon Kaen and Pathum Thani, he added.

The government is aware of this problem and it has established help centres at public hospitals since 1999 for abused women and children, he said.

The Public Health Ministry has set up 896 "Pheung Dai" help centres to provide integrated care for abused women and children in one venue.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was marked yesterday in various provinces. In the South, a 500-strong parade by the Women for Peace Foundation and allies was held in Yala's Muang district to mark the occasion. They called for safety areas in the restive deep South.

Sophon said pornography, alcohol and narcotics were the main factors that led to violence against women and children.

He said most of the violent attacks against children took the form of sexual violations, which led to unwanted pregnancies followed by more physical assault. Most attackers tend to be people close to the victims, such as relatives or friends of the family.

Most of the affected women suffer physical abuse followed by sexual attacks and unwanted pregnancy, he said, and the culprits tend to be husbands or boyfriends. The motives of these attacks are usually relationship problems such as adultery and jealousy.