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Twitter storm builds over sexual assault by a Thai artist

The hashtag #ศิลปินชายท่านหนึ่ง (#a certain male artist) was trending Monday after sexual assault allegations against an unnamed rising artist in the Thai contemporary art scene.

The alleged perpetrator assaulted five women during his time at an arts faculty at Silpakorn University between 2016 and 2020, according to Twitter user luisjerion_, who said she spoke directly with all of the victims.

Out of the five cases, four victims were allegedly assaulted by the perpetrator while unconscious, and there was reportedly a witness at one assault.

The alleged assailant’s identity was indicated by means of a veiled reference to one of his famous works.

Queries to the accusers have been met with confirmation but no further comments were given pending legal action.

So far, two victims have filed a report with the police, the accuser tweeted, and another said she spoke with the perpetrator on the phone and asked for a public apology. The perpetrator allegedly refused the request, saying that he will “only speak out when ready,” and has denied all other allegations, she wrote.

Furious netizens have pressured police to launch an immediate investigation. Many alumni have also expressed disappointment over Silpakorn University’s lack of tangible action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its students.

Sexual harassment and assault are increasingly making headlines in Thailand, which has a long and deep-rooted problem with gender-based violence. The Pavena Foundation for Children and Women recorded 1,962 cases of rapes and abuses against women and girls in 2020. It is widely estimated that many more go unreported.

In a shift in cultural mindsets in recent years, people are speaking up about these issues more and demanding justice, with groups like the Bad Student leading the movement. Looking at the statistics, however, much more work is still needed.

At the time of writing, the latest hashtag has been mentioned on social media over 105,000 times.

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ByAreeya Kunawaradisai

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