UBON RATCHATHANI — A man was arrested in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani for allegedly assaulting a Songkran reveler, police said Monday.
Pipatpong Singhsaen, 29, was charged with public indecency upon his arrest last night. Investigators identified him as the person seen touching and kissing a woman without her consent in a video posted to the internet.
Although the victim has not filed a complaint, provincial police chief Thanitsak Siripattanapak said he instructed officers to charge Pipatpong anyway due to the serious nature of his alleged crime. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
Under Thai law, the charge of public indecency is more severe than sexual harassment, which carries a relatively light punishment of a month in jail.
LIVE: First day of Songkran at Bangkok’s Silom Road and the neighboring Lumpini Park
โพสต์โดย Khaosod English เมื่อ วันเสาร์ที่ 13 เมษายน 2019
According to the police, Pipatpong assaulted the woman while she was riding on a motorcycle and stopped for a red light at an intersection. The video – filmed by a passerby – shows the assailant’s friends laughing nearby as the woman tries to slap his arms away.
Police said Pipatpong also tested positive for drug use when he was apprehended at his home Sunday night. He reportedly was once sentenced to nine months in prison on firearm charges.
Sexual harassment is widespread during the water festival of Songkran. A 2019 survey released by the Progressive Men and Women Movement Foundation, a women’s rights organization, said nearly half of its 2,400 interviewees had been sexually assaulted at least once during a Songkran holiday period.
Authorities have urged revelers to “dress appropriately” to avoid incidents, prompting criticism and ridicule from rights advocates who say sexual assault is not related to the victims’ clothing.