ประมวลกฎหมายอาญา Penal Code B.E. 2499, Chapter 3 (Abortion) (1956)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination

Section 301 states that any woman, causing herself an abortion or allowing another person to procure an abortion for herself, shall be liable to imprisonment up to a term of three years or a fine not exceeding 60,000 Baht. Section 302 punishes those who procure an abortion for a woman with her consent; the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or a fine up to 20,000 Baht, with the term and amount varying according to if grievous bodily harm or death resulted from the abortion. Section 303 punishes those who procure an abortion for a woman without her consent; the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 20 years or a fine up to 40,000 Baht, with the term and amount varying according to if grievous bodily harm or death resulted from the abortion. Section 305 exempts those under Sections 301 or 302 from the offense if the abortion was carried out be a medical practitioner on medical grounds or the woman is younger than 15 years and the pregnancy resulted from rape or fetuses with fatal abnormalities. Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled on 19 February 2020 that existing laws on abortion (Sections 301 and 305) conflict with Thailand’s 2017 Constitution as they fail to hold men responsible for illegal abortions. It remains unclear how the provisions will be amended; the ruling gives the government 360 days for the amendments and does not immediately change the law. English translation available from the ILO through External Link.

National Education Act of B.E. 2545 (1999) (as amended by the National Education Act, B.E. 2545 (2002)) (2002)

Gender discrimination

The National Education Act provides for Thailand’s educational system’s structure. Under Section 10, all individuals shall have equal rights and opportunities to receive basic education provided by the State for the duration of at least 12 years. Such education, provided on a nationwide basis, shall be of quality and free of charge. This extends to those with physical, mental, emotional, and social deficiencies, and those unable to support themselves or who are otherwise destitute or disadvantaged, where such persons shall have the rights and opportunities to receive basic education specially provided. Original Thai laws available here.

Civil and Commercial Code (as amended until Code (No. 18), B.E. 2551 (2008)) Book V, Chapter IV (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Property and inheritance rights

This Code comprises the main body of laws of Thailand and regulates many aspects of Thai law. Section 1502 states that divorce may be effected only by mutual consent or by judgment of the court. The grounds of action for divorce are set out at Section 1516 and do not discriminate between genders. The grounds include unfaithfulness; misconduct that causes shame, excessive injury or trouble, or causes a spouse to be insulted or hated on account of being the spouse of the perpetrator; a spouse causes serious harm to the mind or body of the other or seriously insults the other’s ascendants; desertion or imprisonment; separate cohabitation; failure to provide maintenance or support; insanity; incurable and communicable disease or physical disadvantage so that cohabitation is not possible; and breaking a bond of good behavior. There are certain circumstances in which a spouse may not be able rely on one of these grounds for divorce, including: (1) they instituted, consented, or conspired to the act or caused it (in relation to physical disadvantage), or (2) the ground of action is minor or of no importance in relation to peaceful cohabitation. The right to institute an action for divorce is terminated if the spouse entitled has committed any act showing his or her forgiveness (Section 1518). According to Section 1533 upon divorce, the marital assets shall be divided equally and under Section 1535, the spouses would be equally liable for common debts. The remedies for divorce include a right for the aggrieved to claim compensation or living allowances.

Thai laws available here.

พระราชบัญญัติ ความเท่าเทียมระหว่างเพศ พ.ศ.๒๕๕๘ (Gender Equality Act 2015) (2015)

Gender discrimination

The “Equality Act” broadly prohibits almost all forms of gender discrimination. It establishes two groups, the Committee for the Promotion of Gender Equality (the “PGE Committee”) and the Committee on the Determination of the Unfair Gender Discrimination (the “UGD Committee”). The PGE Committee’s powers and duties broadly include prescribing and recommending policy on promoting gender quality, prescribing guidelines for providing assistance and remedy to victims of gender inequality, overseeing the performance of duties under the Equality Act, and promoting study and research into the prevention of gender discrimination. The UGD Committee’s powers and duties include considering problems submitted by petition claiming unfair gender discrimination, prescribing provisional measures before rendering decisions for protection or mitigation, and issuing orders to perform duties or provide compensation. Any person or organization found guilty of an offense shall be ordered to cease and prevent recurrence of unfair gender discrimination. Whoever fails to comply with such an order shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding 20,000 Baht. Under section 17(2) of the Equality Act gender discrimination is permitted on the basis of religious principles or national security. English translation available through External Link.

พระราชบัญญัติ แก ไขเพิ่มเติมประมวลกฎหมายอาญา (ฉบับที่ ๑๙) พ.ศ. ๒๕๕๐ มาตรา 286 (Act for the Amendment of the Penal Code (no. 19) of 2007 section 286) (1956)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Criminal Code Section 286 criminalizes any person over the age of 16 years who subsists in whole or part on the earnings of a sex worker. The sentence is imprisonment of 7-20 years and a fine of 14,000-40,000 Baht, or imprisonment for life. The provisions of this section do not apply if the sex worker is bound to give maintenance according to law or morality.

English translation as of 2003 via ILO available here.

พระราชบัญญัติ ป้องกันและปราบปรามการค้าประเวณี พ.ศ. ๒๕๓๙ (Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act B.E. 2539 of 1996) (1996)

Gender discrimination, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The “Prostitution Act” criminalizes various activities associated with sex work. The criminalized activities include (see Sections 5 to 13): soliciting oneself in a public place, associating with another in a sex work establishment for the purpose of prostitution, advertising oneself or another for the purpose of sex work, procuring a person for the purpose of prostituting that person, a parent who connives in the prostitution of their child who is under the age of 18, being an owner/manager/supervisor in a prostitution establishment or other controller of sex workers in a prostitution establishment, and detaining a person or threatening in any manner to compel engagement in sex work. The Prostitution Act only criminalizes individuals involved with selling sex, but carries no criminalization or consequences for a customer buying it unless the sex worker is under the age of 18. The penalty for involvement in prostitution ranges from a fine up to a term of imprisonment for life depending on the offense committed. A sex worker could be charged with a fine not exceeding 1,000 Baht and imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month. Over the past few years, police have been conducting raids, sometimes violently, on prostitution establishments. It has been noted that those who exploit women in prostitution are rarely prosecuted and women working in the entertainment sector are often presumed guilty and subject to humiliating treatment following arrest. There are also reports to widespread corruption and official complicity in prostitution and trafficking cases.

English translation available here.

Domestic Case Law

Prosecutor of Nakorn Ratchasima Province v. Piman Pollachote (No. 2398/2553) Supreme Court of Thailand (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

On the night of the crime committed, several perpetrators had gang raped the victim, at which the defendant was present. The defendant later drove the victim from the scene of the crime, and raped the victim along the way. The issue presented in front of the Supreme Court was whether the defendant was liable for gang rape when the defendant merely knelt down and was unclothed beside the victim at the gang rape. The Supreme Court held that the circumstances of the case as presented shows that the defendant was ready to gang rape the victim if had the chance. The defendant therefore was considered a principal in first degree in the gang rape.

Prosecutor of Naan Province v. Kohn Rokprai (No. 16001/2553) Supreme Court of Thailand (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

The plaintiff claimed that on the night the crime took place, the victim went to sleep around 9PM in the same bug screen as the victim’s father, the victim’s mother and her sister. Around midnight, the victim felt someone had pressed her down, undressed her pants and forced an object into her genitalia. The victim tried to push the perpetrator away. The victim felt that the person on top of her was a male, but felt too scared to open her eyes. She was perpetrated for approximately twenty minutes. The issue in this case was whether or not the defendant’s action was rape. The Supreme Court held that the circumstances of the case showed that the victim did not give consent. She tried to resist, but failed. Because the defendant was the only male in the bug screen, the victim might have suspected the defendant to be the perpetrator and felt too scared to resist or let others know. The Supreme Court held that the defendant forced his genitalia into the victim’s genitalia without consent, and that such action of the defendant constituted rape, as prescribed by section 276 paragraph 1 of Criminal Code.

Kanitchon Anansirisub v. Caster Peak Holdings, Co. Ltd. (Public) and party defendants (No. 8379/2550) Supreme Court of Thailand (2007)

Sexual harassment

The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant, under the subordination of the second defendant. In September 1995, the second defendant and the plaintiff started a sexual relationship which the plaintiff could not avoid. Later, the second defendant engaged the plaintiff in other sexual activities on several occasions, which if the plaintiff refused, the plaintiff might face consequences at work. The plaintiff resigned from her job position on June 7, 2001. The plaintiff asked the Court to grant her the right to damages paid by the defendants from the sexual harassment action, which made it impossible for her to stay in the job position, which was a violation of section 16 of the Labor Protection Act, B.E. 2541. The Supreme Court held that if the second defendant’s action was a sexual harassment, not only was the action a breach of tort duty, it was also a breach of the employment contract as well. The plaintiff therefore had the right to both the remedy for the torts claim and damages from the breach of contract claim.

Pollawat Suntornwuttigrai v. Toyota Leasing (Thailand), Co. Ltd. (No. 1372/2545) Supreme Court of Thailand (2002)

Gender-based violence in general

The plaintiff was working as an employee of the defendant and had the power to evaluate whether or not probation employees will be working full-time after the probation period. The plaintiff abused that power by asking his subordinate female employees out and if they did not comply the plaintiff would evaluate such female employees in a negative way. The plaintiff also abused its power by asking out applicants who apply for positions with the defendant during the period of time the defendant has to make decisions whether or not the applicants get the positions. The defendant therefore dismissed the plaintiff, which the plaintiff claimed was an unfair dismissal. The Court held that such actions of the plaintiff constitute sexual harassment. Not only do they contradict public morals and customs which are violations of the plaintiff’s obligations regarding the defendant’s rules and regulations, they were affecting the defendant’s personnel management and growth of business by reducing the morale of female employees who refused and were harassed by the plaintiff. The violations of the plaintiff’s obligations regarding the defendant’s rules and regulations were serious. The defendant had the right to dismiss the plaintiff without having to offer the plaintiff a severance pay according to section 119(4) of the Labor Protection Act, B.E. 2541, or pay in lieu of notice, according to section 583 of the Civil and Commercial Code.

Prosecutor of Pattani Province v. Rashane Noosuwan and party defendant (No. 1917/2550) Supreme Court of Thailand (2007)

Sexual violence and rape

The plaintiff claimed the co-defendants and a party of five, together, committed battery against the victim, who is a twenty-six year old female, forcefully performed public indecency by grabbing the victim’s breasts, forced the victim to put the defendants’ genitalia parts in her mouth and gang raped the victim alternately. The second defendant denied raping the victim, contending he only forced his genitalia part in the victim’s mouth and grabbed the victim’s breasts. The Supreme Court held that this is overall a crime of gang rape. For the second defendant to force his genitalia part inside the victim’s mouth and grab the victim’s breasts during the gang rape reflected that the second defendant was a principal of first degree in the gang rape. The second defendant did not have to participate in the rape itself.

Porntip v. Panomprai Katesa Supreme Court of Thailand (2009)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The Supreme Court ruled that a husband's adulterous behavior which caused his wife great mental pain and humiliation and led to a four-year-separation created appropriate grounds for the wife to file for divorce.

Public Prosecutor v. Mr. Eakkapong Supreme Court of Thailand (2006)

Sexual violence and rape

The accused took the underage victim from her parents. The Court determined that the offense of sexual assault and the offense of wrongfully taking the accused for the purpose of sexual assault are separate offenses.