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It’s the first report of its kind that draws attention to what activists have described as hate crimes against lesbians and masculine-presenting women in Thailand – a country commonly regarded to be one of the most LGBT-friendly in Southeast Asia.
In a statement published by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) on Mar 27, 2012, the commission – in association with local LGBT human rights advocates – wrote to the government of Thailand to “express shock and outrage and demand an immediate investigation into the pattern of gruesome murders of lesbians and gender variant women – those who identify as toms [derived from 'tomboy' to mean butch lesbians], between 2006 and 2012.”
The IGLHRC say the murders have been dismissed by the police as 'crimes of passion, love gone wrong, or the fault of the victims' and were not investigated as hate crimes. Thailand however does not have hate crime legislation or legal provisions to protect anyone facing discrimination based on any grounds.
The New-York-based NGO sent a list of eight demands, including an immediate investigation of the killings and rapes of lesbians, the implementation of a national monitoring system of homophobic crimes, and to train and sensitise all law enforcement personnel about equality before the law regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The letter was sent to Thailand’s Inspector General of Women’s Affairs and Family Development (which comes under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security), the Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The IGLHRC reports that in all cases the deaths have been verified, and most victims identified.
17-year old Orn-uma Wongprachit and her tomboy partner, 17-year old Marisa Srisawa, were found dead on January 15, 2009. They had been stabbed over sixty times. Image from goosiam.com.
Some of the victims were as young as seventeen. In addition to being stabbed multiple times, suffocated, strangled, or shot to death, many of the lesbians and toms had also been raped.
In two cases of double homicides, lesbian couples were killed by men who objected to their relationship and felt rebuffed when their attempts at coercing one partner into a heterosexual relationship failed.
Most recently, a 14-year old girl reported to police that her father began raping her in 2008 when she was 10 years old because she "liked to hang out with toms" and would not listen to his instructions to stay away from them. The girl told her mother who then took her to the police. The father had sole custody of his daughter.
"The killing and rapes of lesbians and toms represents a callous disregard for humanity. The failure of the Thai government to prevent or properly investigate these killings are not only appalling, they are evidence of poor governance and blatant violation of international human rights law," said Grace Poore, Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands, IGLHRC.
When contacted by Fridae, Anjana Tang Suvarnananda, a longtime Thai LGBT rights activist and founder of Anjaree Foundation that focuses on LGBT advocacy, says the main issue here is the “lack of recognition and understanding of the prejudice, the stigma, the abuse and the violence that lesbians, toms and dees (derived from 'lady' to mean femme lesbians) face in Thai society.”
“People are being affected but the authorities do not see the cases as hate crimes or as a specific problem. Many of the victimes are being abused by their own family members and people around them,” she added.
“We don't have any organisation that monitors or studies the situation. We don't have a mechanism where lesbians and toms and dees can bring their complaints forward as hate crimes or report a situation if they are being targeted.”
When asked if the numbers could be higher, Anjana says there is no way of knowing since there’s currently no “clear methodology” to document any possibly related cases nor can researchers distinguish between crimes of passion involving opposite sex couples where the female partner or their male lovers become victims of “men who go crazy because they think they own their women” and the situation of women who leave their boyfriends for toms.
The government and police has yet to respond to IGLHRC's letter.
The following is from the statement LGBT human rights advocates charge Thai police ignore fifteen killings of lesbians and tomboys, dismiss as “love gone sour”:
Advocates to Thai Government: Uphold Promise of Human Rights
Human Rights defenders and IGLHRC representatives assert that the Thai government must be held accountable to the principles of these treaties and fulfill their promise to uphold human rights. As a result of police bias and improper investigations into egregious violence against lesbians and toms, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has made eight specific recommendations to the Thai government to correct the egregious situation.
1. Order an immediate investigation of the killings and rapes of lesbians and toms in Thailand, and release results of this investigation in a press conference that includes LGBT groups and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Thailand.
2. Ensure that the Royal Thai Police and the Office of the Attorney General ofThailand bring to justice the perpetrators of these horrific crimes against lesbians and toms.
3. Develop and implement a system of monitoring, recording and reporting future incidents of homophobic and transphobic violence, where victims themselves, or their partners friends and family members can report violence without fear of reprisals or threats to privacy.
4. Promote an environment where Thai gays, lesbians, toms and kathoeys (transgender people) enjoy the rights to equal and adequate protection under the law, personal security and safety from violence, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression and opinion.
5. Collaborate with the NHRC and the Thai Sexual Diversity Network to conduct a public awareness campaign to end stigmatization, discrimination, and lethal and non-lethal violence, including family violence against LGBT people
6. Provide resources to the NHRC to train and sensitize all personnel in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems about equality before the law regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to ensure that those investigating or receiving reports of violence must recognize the motives of perpetrators.
7. Include violence against lesbians, toms and transgender people in Thailand’s next CEDAW report.
8. Lead by example in the region and openly support the rights of LGBT people by enacting laws to implement Article 30 (the anti-discrimination clause) of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550.
On February 24, 2012 in Loei province, a 14-year old girl reported to police that her 38-year old father, who had sole custody of her since 2008, had been raping her continuously for four years because she "liked to hang out with toms" and wouldn't listen to his instructions to stay away from them. She told police that the most recent rape had been on 11 February 2012. http://fb.kapook.com/hilight-68028.html
On December 4, 2011 in Pattani province, 24-year old Nurisan Chedurame, described as a tomboy by those who knew her, was found dead near the village garbage dump with her head smashed in. A three-inch club was found at the crime scene. Relatives said that Nurisan had not returned from being out with friends the night before. Police suspected she was killed because "she was involved with women. http://www.pyntoday.com/webboard/index.php?topic=3445.0
On December 2, 2011 in Chonburi province, the decomposed body of 25-year old Kanchana Changkwian, a tomboy, was found two months after she went missing. Police speculated that Kanchana had been raped and murdered "for becoming involved with a married woman." http://news.sanook.com/1076498/...
On August 6, 2011 in Suphanburi province, the body of an unidentified tomboyish woman with tattoos was found in an irrigation canal. She had been slashed in the face by a machete, strangled with a rope, and dumped. Forensics examination indicated she had been killed five days earlier. http://www.kayasit.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1829
On June 28, 2011 in Trat province, a tom (un-named) was murdered by her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. Parents and relatives of the girlfriend (un-named) had opposed the relationship, and despite threats against the tom, had failed to stop the couple from continuing to see each other. The mother of the girlfriend engineered the murder of the tom and promised to marry off her daughter to the ex-boyfriend who committed the murder. http://www.showmax.tv/...news?newsid=1114
On June 27, 2011 in Samut Sakhon province, two women believed to be in a same sex relationship were executed in a rice field. The tomboyish woman (un-named) was shot four times in the head, and her 17-year old partner, (un-named) was shot twice in the head. Police speculated that the execution-style killings were "caused by a soured love affair." http://108sport.com/news_detail.php?n_id=2024
On March 17, 2009 in Chachoengsao province, a Laotian tomboy (name withheld) was raped and strangled to death by a Laotian man with whom she had been drinking. http://news.sanook.com/366851/...
On January 24, 2009 in Narathiwat province, 28-year old Wilasinee Naesee was found suffocated with a plastic bag over her head. She had also been cut multiple times with a sharp object. Wilasinee had been missing from home for two days. Police suspected her murder was "because of sexual affairs." http://76.nationchannel.com/playvideo.php?id=24090
On January 15, 2009 in Chiang Mai province, 17-year old Orn-uma Wongprachit and her tomboy partner, 17-year old Marisa Srisawa, were found dead. They had been stabbed over sixty times. Orn and Marisa worked at a karaoke bar to support their families. Police said they had been killed by a man, "attracted to one of the women and felt disdainful of the lesbian relationship." http://www.goosiam.com/news/news1/html/0015294.html
On April 7, 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima province, the half naked body of a senior school teacher, Takkhinawisut Ritthidet, was discovered in her home. Her head had been smashed in several places. Police said, she had been killed by someone known to her since there was no sign of forced entry or theft. http://www.ryt9.com/s/bmnd/683069
On March 25, 2008 in Chiang Mai province, Kannikar Suphasri was gang raped, strangled and burned by three male drug dealers. Police say she was allegedly a drug dealer involved in a money dispute with the killers, and lured to the crime scene by one of the men who "fancied her." All three men committed the rape and burning. http://entertainment.goosiam.com/hotnews/html/0009281.html
On March 5, 2008 in Bangkok, 42-year old Paphatsorn Phiu-ondee was gunned down while talking on the phone with her live-in girlfriend. Police ruled out robbery and cited "sexual affairs" as the motive for the killing. http://www.yenta4.com/webboard/2/1220961.html
On August 31, 2007 in Bangkok, 42-year old vegetable vendor, Nattawadee Chandaeng was shot and killed by two men on a motorbike. Police say "the murder may be due to Nattawadee’s sexual affairs with women who may be already in relationships." http://news.mthai.com/general-news/85593.html
On August 9, 2006 in Nakorn Ratchasima province, Kritsana Krasaewik was assaulted and burned alive by her boyfriend and his three friends for allegedly "showing off" her girlfriend to her boyfriend. At the time of this report, she had suffered burns over 50 percent of her body and was in a coma. No further news is available. http://tnews.teenee.com/crime/3594.html