BANGKOK — Though 1 in 5 Thais have experienced sexual harassment, almost half remain reluctant to speak out, according to a survey of over a thousand Thais.
In a survey of 1,107 Thais by UK-based market research agency YouGov, 21 percent said they have experienced sexual harassment. Sexual assault was the most common form of sexual harassment reported by respondents (44 percent).
The second most common form of sexual harassment was verbal comments of a sexual nature (42 percent) and flashing (35 percent). YouGov said the definitions of each form of sexual harassment were left open-ended and up to the respondents.
Men are almost equally as likely as women to experience sexual harassment (18 percent vs. 23 percent), according to the survey. The data did not investigate the genders of perpetrators.
The survey found that most experiences of sexual harassment seem to take place in public venues, such as public transportion (27 percent), nightclubs (18 percent), school/university (17 percent), and other public places (29 percent).
Just over half of respondents (57 percent) told someone about being sexually harassed. The survey found people are more likely to tell a friend (55 percent) or family members (39 percent) than the police (10 percent). Men were found to be more likely to report their experiences of sexual harassment than women (60 percent vs. 55 percent), reported the data.
The main reason people choose not to report sexual harassment is embarassment (46 percent), followed by fear that no one will do anything about the problem (27 percent). Both the fear of repercussions and cultural pressure also scored highly (both 25 percent).
Only one in five respondents were aware of the #MeToo movement. Of these respondents, most agree the movement has made people more open to talking about sexual harassment (64 percent). Only 10 percent believe the movement has created no change, while another 10 percent think the movement has made people less open to talking about sexual harassment.
Khaosod English interviewed several Thais about whether the survey’s findings aligned with their own experiences of sexual harassment.
Praew, a 25-year-old employee at a foreign company, agrees that people are more likely to report perpetrators if the stigma and embarassment surrounding sexual harassment is broken. She herself was not sure whether the actions of a former superior at work were inappropriate until she began speaking with colleagues.
“It began with a gentle rub on my head. I thought he was just being kind to me,” said Praew. “Then it became creepier as he touched my waist and shoulder. I initially believed it was accidental, until I learned from my colleagues that they had all experienced the same thing.”
“I think it’s true that if more people talk about it, it will become a less taboo topic to share with someone else,” Praew continued.
Contrary to the stats though, William, a 22-year-old student, believes that men are less likely to speak out than women.
“It’s the nature of men to keep their emotional experiences to themselves, as they are expected to be tough and bold,” William said. “Even I thought I could just let it go, but it kept bothering me until I felt I had to vent it out.”
“I haven’t seen a guy come out in the #MeToo campaign yet, at least in Thailand. But I believe the movement can raise public awareness that men can be victims too,” Min added.
The survey was conducted online from June 11 to 14 using a pool of 1,107 Thais, who signed up to participate in return for compensation.
The survey did not find a correlation between experiences of sexual harassment and age or socio-economic status. YouGov states the study has a margin of error of 3 percent.