Thailand

Tragic story of a 22 year old wife, daughter and sister shows Facebook was a factor in her death when it was used as a tool to publicly destroy her honour

A married Thai women living in Lampang province was forced into committing suicide when a photograph appeared on the social network site facebook showing her lying asleep behind the man who police are now investigating for rape. It comes barely over a year after a Thai mother watched a video on Facebook showing her estranged partner murdering the couple’s infant daughter by hanging.

Thai police arrest man over death by suicide of Thai women after photo appeared on Facebook
Noppadol Nawaariya, a former headman, who Thai police took into custody and are investigating for rape following complaints made by the family of a Thai woman who committed suicide in Lampang province when photographs of a sexual encounter were posted on Facebook.

It was yet another case of a suicide attempt for Lampang Hospital: a 22 year-old Hmong woman living in Lampang province, located in north western Thailand, consumed pesticide and was in critical condition when she was rushed to the facility by distraught relatives. Despite the doctors and nurses’ best effort, she passed away several days later, causing untold pain and anguish for her waiting relatives and friends.

Friends were later shocked to learn from her close family what had happened to the woman. But her family already knew the cause of her personal crisis. They were told that the cause of her death was that she had been raped, coerced and shamed by a former village headman. The trigger that prompted her suicide was a vivid personal photo posted on the social networking site Facebook.

Thai woman kept silent over rape ordeal but the suspect posted a photo on Facebook

The suspect was identified by Thai police as Noppadol Nawaariya. He was reported to have been a former headman in Lampang’s Tak’s Phop Phra district. The Thai man was a local leader and up to that point, a man who was highly respected. As a former headman, he was a leader of the community, wealthy and locally influential. Many in this position in Thailand are powerful enough not to fear retribution in many situations due to the hierarchical and traditional nature of Thai society. According to Thai police, Nawaariya lured his victim to an apartment hotel on July 14 and had carnal knowledge with her. It is reported that the young Thai woman had taken a mini van to a nearby city to purchase medication from the former headman. She had made contact earlier and befriended him on Facebook. It is reported that the man took various photos and ‘clips’ of his time with the victim. Thai police are investigating the matter as a rape case.

Woman was unusually quiet before Facebook photo appeared online leading her to take her own life

The family of the Thai woman noticed that she was unusually quiet in the days after her meeting with the Thai man. It is now thought that this was due to the incident which compromised her position and gave the man leverage over her. The woman had tried keep silent about their ordeal until the rapist himself posted one of the photos of what happened in the hotel room on his Facebook page. The photo showed the woman resting, asleep next to the former village leader. Earlier reports suggested that more than one man was involved the incident but the family of the unfortunate woman confirmed that she had told them that it was only the former community leader who was involved in the incident.

Facebook group representing crime victims supported the family

Later, after the woman had died in hospital, a lawyer and the chairman of an active Facebook group which supports victims of crime, escorted the woman’s family to meet the police. Atchariya Ruangratanapong went with the victim’s twin sister to meet Police Lt Colonel Seusakul Khunpherm to give evidence to assist with their investigation of the matter. This including pinpointed and identifying the photo that appeared on the facebook social network site.

Lawyer and activist believes woman may not have been the first victim

It has also also been suggested by the victims rights activist that the woman may not have been the man’s first victim. He was of the opinion that the man may have preyed on other women who had not reported their plight to the police in nearby Tak province and other areas of northern Thailand. He revealed that many Hmong people, to which the woman belonged, believed that a village headman had considerable local power. The victim of the crime had told him that she had gone to a hotel room with the suspect because she feared refusing to do so would have negative implications for her family.

Woman told her parents about the incident prior to killing herself

After the photo surfaced on Facebook, it was reported the young woman tearfully told her parents how the man had propositioned her and that she had gone with him to the room on July 14th fearing adverse consequences for her family if she refused. She decided to kill herself some time later. She ingested pesticide. Her sister told the press of the emotional suicide note that the victim had left for her family where she apologised to her parents and promised her sister to be born again in the next life as her twin.

Rape suspects actions show remorse and guilt for his actions

The suspect, named by a court order as Noppadol Nawaariya, found himself the subject of an arrest warrant after the matter was taken up by police. He surrendered himself by arrangement to them afterwards and was reported as being held in custody. He is facing a charge, a charge which carries severe penalties including a jail term. The woman’s family were reported to be happy and relieved that the police had apprehended the man.

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Her sister said the suspect had contacted her while her sister lay dying in hospital by friending her on the facebook social media network. He had made enquiries about her sister’s health and offered 30,000 baht per month in compensation. She told that the media that she refused the offer because she did not know who he was and was in a state of shock due to the traumatic run of events. She also denied earlier reports that the suspect and his friends participated in the rape, saying that he was the only one responsible and urging serious punishment for him to seek justice for her sister. The victim’s sister urged the police to seek justice for her sister and revealed that the suspect had lured her to the room by pretending to be a single man.

Facebook and social networking are now  integral to Thai lives

Facebook, with its immediacy and live network, has become a huge force in people’s lives in Thailand. The penetration of the social network in Bangkok is the highest in the world while a smartphone revolution in Thailand means social networking through sites like Facebook and the Line app have spread to all communities in Thailand.

Thai woman saw her infant daughter murdered on Facebook

Back in April 2017 another Thai woman of 22 years old, a Thai mother estranged from her partner was alerted to a status update by the father of her child by her brother. He had stumbled upon a macabre video showing a live recording of the man murdering his infant daughter Natalie by hanging her from the side of an abandoned building.

The man then proceeded to make his own life leaving a recording of the live event on Facebook. The incident had occurred earlier that day and the unfortunate mother found herself watching helplessly hours later. A frantic call to Thai police could not have saved her daughter.  ‘He was scrolling down and suddenly we saw the live broadcast. I turned to take a look and saw him (Wuttisan) drop my daughter with the rope and I couldn’t continue to watch,’ she told AFP at the time of the outrage.

The bodies of  her daughter and her father who had murdered her were found by police hours later.

Thai mother did not blame social media and turned to religious ritual

The Thai woman specifically did not blame facebook for the tragedy despite intense public anger at the fact that the video remained online for 24 hours after the event. ‘I don’t blame Facebook. They are not part of the problem, we can choose to broadcast happiness or sadness,’ she said.

The woman and her family at the time took comfort from Thai funeral rituals seeking to find solace at a time of extreme anguish and pain. Similarly with the Hmong woman, a daughter, sister and wife whose honour was taken and her shame cruelly exposed on Facebook. Her family sought some comfort and closure with traditional funeral rites held at Lampang’s Ngao district after her death in a Lampang hospital.

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