BANGKOK — A new law unveiled on Tuesday no longer considers the forced insertion of an object into the anus, mouth or genitals as rape.
The latest amendment to the Penal Codes strictly defines rape as an assault that involves the asssailant’s genitals – a change called a step backwards by a prominent women’s rights activist. The amended law also imposes a harsher jail term for filming rape.
“Amending the law this way is ridiculous. It shouldn’t have been done at all,” women’s welfare advocate Jaded Chaowilai said in an interview. “Some men might not have used their genitals, but they committed a crime while driven by sexual urge.”
Jaded, whose group Women and Men Progressive Movement assists rape victims, said he recently dealt with a case of sexual assault where the perpetrator only used their hands.
“In that case, the perpetrator would have been off the hook,” he said. “This amendment does not solve problems. It will end up creating more problems.”
Insertion of an instrument is still punishable by up to 20 years in prison under indecency offense.
Prison terms for those who film rape were increased by a third under the new law. The amendment came into effect yesterday.
The changes were enacted after a series of high profile sexual assaults in recent years prompted calls on social media for tougher measures to combat rape. However, the amended law did not include the harshest measure urged by many netizens: the death penalty.
Jaded said instituting capital punishment for sexual assault would not help if the law is not enforced seriously.
“Police often encourage victims who don’t know their legal rights to settle out of court,” he said.
The activist said the authorities should also increase efforts to monitor cases of sexual assault within families and encourage victims to come forward with their complaints.