A nine year-old Buri Ram schoolgirl, who allegedly was sexually molested for nearly two years by two motorcycle taxi drivers, was admitted to a rehabilitation programme yesterday.
The two suspects, both in their 50s, had been reportedly hired by the grandmother, with whom the girl was staying, to take her to and from school.
The enrollment of the child in rehabilitation followed the arrest of the two suspects – Akarawat Chotisinthanawat, 54, and Wanna Jatukul, 55 – in Buri Ram’s Nang Rong district on Saturday on charges of sexually molesting a minor under 15. The third-grader’s teacher had filed a police complaint after finding out about the alleged sexual abuse from the girl.
The teacher had noticed that the girl was often absent-minded, suffered from depression and fell behind in her class assignments and homework.
An initial investigation found that over the past two years, the suspects allegedly lured the girl to temples and public parks and then forced her to watch pornographic movies before molesting her.
While being held in Nang Rong police custody, Wanna reportedly confessed to the crime but Akarawat maintained that he was innocent.
Buri Ram Children and Family Home head Yongyuth Wichaitham said a multi-disciplinary team had initially interviewed the schoolgirl and sent her for a physical examination at a hospital. They then sent her temporarily to a home for rehabilitation.
Yongyuth said he would ask the multi-disciplinary team to provide the girl with more assistance, adding that would also explore measures that communities could implement to prevent similar cases of child molestation. He urged parents to keep a close watch on their children and not to entrust them to strangers.
According to a 2016 study by the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation regarding reported sexual attack cases in Thailand, 51.3 per cent of the cases involved rapes and 13.7 per cent attempted rapes.
Forty per cent of attacks were committed by people familiar to the victim, 12 per cent were the victim’s relatives and 8.7 per cent were people the victims met via social media. About 26 per cent of sexual assault victims were aged between 11 and 15 and 24 per cent were between 16 and 20.
A harrowing story and hopefully this poor girl can be helped to recover and lead some sort of normal life. Credit to the teacher who realized something was wrong, though questions should be asked of the previous teachers.
(by SURACHAI PIRAKSA
THE NATION , THAILAND)