Train killing raises queries about Thai attitude to violent crimes

The case of the 13-year-old girl raped and killed on a train has sparked debate, discussion and heated quarrels. One of the burning issues is the question of whether rapists deserve the death term, regardless of whether they kill their victims or not. A slew of articles on the matter have been shared via social media platforms such as Facebook. Many are worth reading and considering.

Surapot Taweesak, a philosophy lecturer at Rajabhat Suan Dusit University, wrote about two philosophical positions. He talked of determinism where some criminals may be "programmed" by genes and environment, while others commit crime of their own free will and need to be held more responsible for their actions.

He said determinism places more focus on the cause of the crime rather than justice for the victim. However, he said that the death penalty wasn't an effective way to prevent crimes.

Yukti Mukdawijitra from the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology at Thammasat University might have considered the idea of determinism discussed by Surapot when he wrote about the case's implications on Thai society as a whole.

He said Thailand is a society with selective morality. Mercy is given to different groups often with an uncertain rationale.

He also said women in Thai society are treated unequally and that females are doubly victimised as many observers criticise them for not protecting themselves sufficiently.

Yukti said Thai society supports violence against violent people and that Thais tend to solve problems with violence.

"When problems are seen at a personal level, it is thought that bad people must be controlled or eradicated. However, there is no talk of revamping the system and creating a new one that will be better for all the people," he wrote, adding that just applying the death penalty would not make Thai society better.

Chatchapol Kiatikajornthada, a doctor who writes books about behaviour in terms of biology, wrote a series of articles on his Facebook page discussing issues arising from the case from the view of psychologist.

He said humans are different from other animals in that they have more empathy. He said killers could be divided into three groups. The first involves conflict of interest and an imbalance in judgement that hampers their resistance to their urges. The second group kill as a result of chemicals, alcohol, drugs, and lack of sleep, stress or anger. The third group of killers murder for pleasure and have no feelings for others. These people are psychopathic or sociopathic.

He explained that these people have no sense of guilt. While psychopaths are the way they are from birth, sociopaths adapt in a reaction to what they experience in life. He then talked about the objectives of setting penalties. He said it was to maintain law and order and to exact retribution.

Meanwhile on Thai Publica, Itsakul Unahakate, a researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute, made some observations.

He noted that while the people are calling for changes in the legal penalties, it must be kept in mind that rape with murder is different from rape without murder.

He mooted the idea that the death penalty might not prevent rape but may increase the rape with murder rate.

He wrote that surveys found that possibly up to 85 per cent of rape and victims of sexual abuse do not report the case to police and that most abusers are people close to the victims.

Itskul then suggested that Thai society should have a serious debate on bigger issues like gender value and failures in the justice system.