Pain to Power: Thai feminists march to end violence against women (VIDEO)

Screenshot: Facebook/ Don’t tell me how to dress
Screenshot: Facebook/ Don’t tell me how to dress

Dozens of Thai feminists yesterday marched through Bangkok’s Victory Monument area to promote the “Pain to Power” campaign, a call for Thais to end physical and sexual violence against women.

The rally, organized by the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation and the Health Promotion Foundation, was led by Sirinya “Cindy” Bishop, the supermodel who started the social media movement “Don’t Tell me How to Dress,” which aims to stop victim blaming in Thai culture.

Encouraging women to have an empowered outlook on life, Sirinya said yesterday that women should never submit to mistreatment, reported New TV.  

In particular, she encouraged Thais to shake off the age-old belief that women must “tolerate” violence to keep a family together, calling it absolutely outdated and false.

“I want to encourage women to abandon their roles as victims. We must find the strength to stand up for ourselves and understand our worth,” Sirinya she.

“We must stand up to make a change.”

Female campaigners who have experienced abuse were encouraged to paint a black tear drop below their eye to signify unity as the campaigners paraded the streets passing out flyers and, at one point, break out into a flash mob.  

A recent survey conducted by the foundation showed that half of women said they believe men are responsible for being the breadwinners and leaders of the family, and that they don’t believe in “airing your dirty laundry in public.”

One of the campaign leaders, Chari Sisawat, explained that this mentality, which discourages women from getting help, is deeply rooted in Thai tradition and been reinforced for generation after generation.

Such black-and-white perspectives of gender roles stem from the unspoken rules of social institutions and perpetuate an unbroken cycle of violence against women, she said.

The campaigners also believe that abusive scenarios commonly seen in Thai TV dramas only contribute to the glorification and promotion of the cycle.

“It’s time to reassess the belief that men are superior to women and should hold the power, because this mentality promotes violence towards women,” said Chari.

“We must instead promote gender equality and the belief that we all have autonomy over our bodies.”

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