High Profile Sexual Assault Case Sparks Protests in Thailand

Prinn Panitchpakd leaves a police station in Bangkok (THAI NEWS PIX/Tananchai Kaewsowattana)
Prinn Panitchpakd leaves a police station in Bangkok (Photo: THAI NEWS PIX/Tananchai Kaewsowattana).

Allegations of sexual assaults by a prominent Thai politician, Prinn Panitchpakdi, have led to three charges of sexual harassment and assault against the former deputy party leader.

The controversy has sparked a national discussion on sexual abuse, with Prinn, 44, accused of misconduct by more than a dozen women.

The former deputy party leader was accused of rape and sexual harassment years ago in London, but was not convicted at that time, which feminist organizers see as an example of how powerful men are protected from accountability for their actions.  

Now Thai feminist protesters have taken to the streets to condemn a legal system that they feel unjustly sweeps sexual harassment under the rug, particularly in cases like this one wherein the suspected abuser holds political power. 

The protesters have listed five primary demands which state, among other things, that the political party must investigate Prinn Panitchpakdi’s criminal record, including his committee memberships and his history of sexual abuse, as well as the sexual abuse histories of all party and committee members.

The Democrat Party has apologized for Prinn’s actions and Prinn has resigned as deputy party leader of the party, but feminist organizers believe there is still a long way to go before the pervasive problem of sexual misconduct is solved.

Protesters took aim at both the Thai establishment and the wider culture of sexism by singing the Thai feminist anthem “Sida Lui Faai,” which condemns the tendency to place blame on the victims—rather than the perpetrators—of sexual abuse.