Residents concerned allegations damage Phang Nga’s reputation
POLICE have pledged to further investigate a gang-rape case after a teenage victim finally spoke up, saying there had been more than 40 perpetrators.
The sexual attacks allegedly took place in Phang Nga province between May and December last year. But the mother of the victim, who is now 15, said the girl had kept silent for so long because she was afraid of the consequences for her reputation and the safety of her family.
Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said yesterday that investigators at Kok Kloi Police Station had sent the victim to a hospital for examination.
“Officials from the Social Development and Human Security Ministry will join the interrogation,” he added.
Krissana said police would also look into whether the case could be considered as human trafficking, as the victim claimed she had also seen other girls being raped.
According to the girl’s mother, a man broke into her house last year and raped her daughter. Days later, the same man and another man returned and allegedly gang-raped the girl.
These incidents were repeated, escalating to the point where the girl was forced on several occasions to go to huts where she was drugged and raped by many other men. Because of the frequency of the attacks, it is believed that more than 40 rapists were involved.
“Because I and my husband work as rubber tappers, we must leave our children alone between midnight and dawn,” the 39-year-old mother said.
She said she started noticing that her daughter acted strangely early this year. The mother initially suspected that her daughter’s behaviour might be linked to her use of a mobile phone, which she confiscated. However, the mother soon discovered that the girl was also frightened at night. After questioning by her mother, the girl began to reveal her ordeal, beginning with the first rape. The mother then took the girl to a police station to file a complaint against the first three accused.
Officials from the Social Development and Human Security Ministry helped the victim’s family relocate. After that, the victim began to divulge more information, and said she had seen other girls being abused in the same manner at the huts she had been taken to.
Chanon Abdullah from the Muslims for Peace Foundation said arrest warrants had already been issued for the first three suspects named by the victim.
Kokkloi Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Satit Prom-utai said at the time of the alleged crimes, the victim was younger than 15.
“Her interrogations will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team only,” he said.
Phang Nga Governor Pakapong Tawipat has also asked the province’s police chief Pol Maj-General Boontawee Toraksa to have the case transferred from the Kokkloi Police Station to the province’s police headquarters instead. While several agencies have come forward to help the young victim, many local residents in Koh Raed Village, where the sexual attacks allegedly took place, have expressed dissatisfaction.
“Officials should identify all 40 suspects to clear any lingering doubts,” a resident said. “Or else, the reputation of our village will be ruined. Since this case was first reported, no tourists have come to our area.”
Pakapong admitted that local residents had demanded that government agencies provide clarification in the case because they felt their village’s reputation had been damaged.
“I have set up a committee to find out the truth about the case,” the governor said.
He added that he had also instructed police to investigate the case.